Zapping World Eleven EXCLUDED: Arkadiusz Milik’s “Little Brother” interview!
What are the main issues in this FA Cup final between Liverpool and Chelsea?
It’s a battle of national supremacy and a story of revenge for Chelsea, after the League Cup final lost against Liverpool on February 27, in a formidable match (0-0, 11-10 Tab) . Looking at the score you might think it wasn’t a terrible game but in fact it was the best 0-0 I have seen in my entire life. With beIN SPORTS, we were there at Wembley and we will be again on Saturday for this FA Cup final. This match was fabulous with a lot of intensity, goals disallowed, an endless penalty shootout… lost by Chelsea, and in particular Kepa Arrizabalaga who replaced Édouard Mendy just before the penalties. Thomas Tuchel had already made this change for the European Super Cup final against Villarreal and Chelsea had won, but against Liverpool it didn’t work. The ten outfield players each made their shot and poor Kepa, who hadn’t made a save, completely missed his shot. A very difficult moment for Kepa and Tuchel, which gives Chelsea plenty of reasons to want revenge against Liverpool on Saturday. While the Reds have already won a trophy and qualified for the Champions League final, if Chelsea lose this final again, this season will end with a lot of disappointment for this team. The Blues have won the Club World Cup, will probably finish in the top three of the Premier League, have reached the two national cup finals… but on Saturday, if they lose again against Liverpool, this year will end in “firecracker”. wet”. For Chelsea players and supporters, winning the FA Cup final is most important, especially as they have lost the last two finals in this competition. You say in France “never two without three”, Chelsea hopes to demonstrate the opposite.
Chelsea last crowned in 2018 while Liverpool haven’t won since 2006, so this competition is special for both teams?
With Arsenal, Chelsea dominated the FA Cup for years, while for Liverpool, there has been no coronation since 2006 and this final against West Ham (3-3, 3-1 on pens), where Steven Gerrard scored a double, including the equalizing goal, with a strike from 30 meters in added time. Liverpool lost their last final in 2012, against Chelsea, and the Reds fans don’t want to win the Cup. This FA Cup occupies a greater place in English culture than the French Cup for the French, it generates three times more audience. The Cup is very important for the English, it is the oldest competition in the world of football, it is 150 years old and it is the 141st final this year. Even though the Champions League final is approaching, Liverpool fans want to win the Cup, before going to Paris to beat Real Madrid. When he puts together his team for Wembley, Jürgen Klopp will not have the C1 final in mind, because he knows the importance of the Cup. Klopp will therefore put his best eleven against Chelsea, before thinking about the end of the season.
“The only sure thing is that we will see a crowned German coach for the first time”
Mason Mount and Mohamed SalahPhoto credit – Icon Sport
Can Liverpool be disadvantaged by the pressure of the Premier League – Champions League – League Cup – FA Cup quadruple?
No, I think it’s a real pleasure for them to have gone all the way in all the competitions. What’s great for the Reds is that the League Cup is already in their pocket and they could be top of the Premier League, although Manchester City appear to be better placed to be crowned champions. It’s extraordinary to reach the final of three competitions and to be very close to the title of champion. We may be used to trivializing this kind of exploit, but we shouldn’t. It’s really a crazy season for Liverpool, unheard of, even if it will be difficult to win everything. Liverpool and Chelsea are a bit tired, which is logical when you go to the end of the competitions, we play more games than the other teams, the legs are a bit heavy. But if we look at the benches of the two clubs, we say to ourselves that the coaches will not lose quality, the replacements-attackers of Liverpool and Chelsea could be holders in any other club. Everything is therefore in place to have a dream final on Saturday, between Chelsea and Liverpool.
The announcement of the takeover of Chelsea by an American consortium, a few days ago, could it disrupt the preparation of the Blues?
No, players don’t care about that kind of stuff. They are paid, there are important games to play so there must not be a single one who thinks about that. Even if this decision necessarily has more impact on Tuchel, he is so well in place at Chelsea that he does not have much to worry about. They are all going to ignore this story next Saturday.
Which teams will set up Thomas Tuchel and Jürgen Klopp at Wembley? Caoimhín Kelleher started in goal for Liverpool in the Carabao Cup…
The League Cup is less important to these big clubs than the FA Cup final, so the coaches can afford to rotate players, but here at Wembley the two coaches will each field their best XI. In view of the crazy numbers, the notion of eleven type remains abstract because this season, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City have a team richness quite unprecedented in the history of English football. The only sure thing is that we will see a German coach crowned for the first time in this competition. Since 1997 and Ruud Gullit’s victory at Chelsea, we have seen many foreign coaches win the Cup and almost no British, with the exception of Alex Ferguson with Manchester United. But we’ve never seen a German coach so Saturday will be a big first.
With the exceptional squads of Chelsea and Liverpool, which duels do you particularly expect?
There will indeed be quite a few matches in the game. I wonder if Thomas Tuchel will be tempted to play Romelu Lukaku, for the physical duel with Virgil van Dijk, especially since Kai Havertz, often good in big games, is a bit “short” at the moment. Havertz is a rather avoidant player, he has no interest in rubbing shoulders with van Dijk, Matip or Konaté, so Lukaku could make up for this physical deficit. If not on the right of the Liverpool defence, we know that Trent Alexander-Arnold has often been targeted by opposing coaches lately. He’s a super talented football player but not the strongest defensively, especially when it’s behind his back. Tuchel could therefore want to launch a Pulisic or a Werner to exploit these spaces. I am fascinated by goalkeepers and there, we have two very important ones for their respective clubs with Edouard Mendy and Alisson. In the League Cup, even if Kelleher had been established in Liverpool, these two goalkeepers were great. On the Chelsea side, will we see Mount-Pulisic or Havertz-Werner… In fact, there are so many options for the two coaches that it’s hard to imagine these duels. We could do a paper on it, then discover the compositions one hour before kick-off and say to ourselves: “Oh shit, there isn’t one playing (laughs)”!
“Timo Werner, man of the match, it’s unlikely but possible”
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Timo WernerPhoto credit – Icon Sport
In Liverpool, there is also the Ballon d’Or which is played for Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané?
I think the Ballon d’Or is normally for Karim Benzema and even if Real Madrid don’t win the Champions League final. For Sadio Mané to have a chance of beating Benzema and being crowned Ballon d’Or, he would have to score and win Liverpool. Regarding Mohamed Salah, if he has just been voted player of the year in England, I think Mané’s African Cup victory will count a little more. Both of these players are interesting as they are under contract until 2023, so it is debatable whether Liverpool will let one go this summer or extend them both. Lately in England, there has been talk of Mané at Bayern Munich to replace Robert Lewandowski, but it is very difficult to know. Both are adored by Reds supporters but are also a bit at the end of their rope at the end of the season. Fortunately for Liverpool, they can count on the freshness of Luis Diaz who has been great since his arrival. He had an extraordinary match in the final of the Coupe de la Ligue and it may therefore be he who will be decisive on Saturday instead of Salah and Mané.
You will be live from the Wembley lawn for this final, what atmosphere do you expect?
It’s going to be wonderful! Even if the fans of both teams are used to going to Wembley, this stadium remains magical and a Cup final is something special. I was on the side of Liverpool for the semi-final against Manchester City and there was an extraordinary noise since the Reds had not won since 2006. I am not worried about the atmosphere especially that it will beautiful, so the English will be “kissing each other’s faces” from early morning, that might not be bad (laughs)!
Should we expect a game as crazy as in the final of the League Cup?
I hope it will be as intense. The quality was extraordinary, there were almost no missed passes, it was very high level and really interesting to watch. They have the players for that, I just hope they have the legs to finish in style.
What is your prediction other than a German manager will win this game?
Damn, I no longer have my punchline (laughs)! It’s super difficult and if I was good at forecasting, I wouldn’t be a journalist anymore. In the last final, they played two hours and took ten shots on goal without being able to decide, so it could be very balanced until a possible moment of magic. I wonder if Chelsea could not surprise Liverpool with a guy who will write his history, like Steven Gerrard in 2006. I like this kind of final, with an unlikely player who explodes, so why not a Timo Werner who fired 3000 times since he’s been at Chelsea and who gives the impression of having scored only three goals. He is a German international, he is a great player, he was horribly lacking in success in England, this could be his final. Timo Werner, Chelsea’s man of the match in the FA Cup final, it’s unlikely but possible, although I would prefer it to be an Englishman like Mason Mount (laughs).
Before the FA Cup final between Chelsea and Liverpool this Saturday (5:45 p.m. on beIN SPORTS 1), Darren Tulett, journalist – beIN Sports presenter, confided in Onze Mondial. This specialist in English football, who will be live from the lawn of Wembley, spoke of the various challenges of this exceptional poster between the Blues and the Reds, in the oldest competition in the history of football.