Mauricio Pochettino has struggled to deal with Liverpool tactically on both occasions this season.
Both at Wembley and Anfield, the Reds overwhelmed Tottenham Hotspur at first. Both times saw Liverpool score early, too.
Gini Wijnaldum opened the scoring from a corner in the first game. That coming after Roberto Firmino had a goal disallowed for a narrow offside after a cross from the right.
Firmino would find the net, though, after some good work on the left flank. Andy Robertson fed Sadio Mane, who cut the ball back for the Brazilian to eventually put away.
At Anfield, too, Firmino scored after Robertson’s work on the left, this time an inch-perfect cross.
The Anfield game is a good example of Pochettino struggling to handle Liverpool. Jurgen Klopp had everything go through the two full-backs. Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold regularly switched play between themselves and ran things.
Liverpool were utterly dominant over the first half an hour and really should have been winning by more than one.
The really important factor here is that Pochettino had tried to deal with it with his starting formation. Spurs played a midfield diamond at Wembley, packing the middle but giving up the flanks.
They tried to fix that at Anfield by playing a back five, with Danny Rose even starting in midfield. It didn’t work. Mane and Mohamed Salah pushed forward and left a lot of space for the full-backs to thrive.
No matter how Spurs initially set up, Liverpool appear to cause serious problems for them. Their natural, trusted systems just can’t handle the way Liverpool attack.
One key thing to remember is that Pochettino, in both games, eventually corrected things. At Wembley, he threw on more forwards in the second half and got a goal back in stoppage time. Truth be told, they probably should have had a penalty after that, too.
Pochettino switched to 4-4-2 at Anfield and changed the game, halting Liverpool’s full-backs. The game became even and the Reds were regretting only having a one-goal lead.
It’s definitely something that Liverpool should try to capitalise on. They do, however, need to watch out for Pochettino’s counter.
Getting that right, on both counts, is what could win or lose the Champions League final.