Football/Soccer

Tottenham no longer 'Spursy' as they face Liverpool in CL Final

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino (right) and Jesus Perez celebrate reaching the Champions League Final.

THE Oxford English Dictionary famously adds new words on a regular basis – but it didn't actually include 'Spursy' several years ago, despite online stories suggesting that it had.

Almost all soccer supporters on social media would know what 'Spursy' means: failing after raising hopes high; coming close to success but not actually winning.

Some may argue that `Spursy' could still be a relevant adjective come midnight this Saturday, but, whether or not Spurs win the Champions League, it really should be removed from the lexicon, even if that's not something that the OED ever does.

'Spursy' surely died early this month, when Tottenham Hotspur recovered from being 3-0 down on aggregate, away at Ajax in Amsterdam, at half-time in the second leg of their Champions League semi-final, having lost the home leg 1-0.

A stunning hat-trick from Lucas Moura, with what proved to be the winner on the night and on away goals coming deep into injury time, should have killed off the use of `Spursy'.

In truth, it was on life support after the north London side even reached that stage, having battled back from taking just one point from their first three group games.

They did make light work of Borussia Dortmund in the round of 16, winning home and away and 4-0 on aggregate, but then had to battle past Manchester City.

Let's put Tottenham's home win in the Champions League quarter-final into proper perspective: since somehow losing at Newcastle United in late January, City played 23 more matches – and the only one of those they lost was away to Spurs.

City only failed to score in one other match, the Carabao Cup Final against Chelsea, which Pep Guardiola's men still won on penalties.

Spurs also went to the Etihad and scored three times.

Funnily enough, Spurs do have a proud European history.

For all that Spurs have been mocked over the decades, they were the first English club to win a European trophy (the Cup-Winners' Cup in 1963) and the first winners of the Uefa Cup (in 1972), a trophy they won again 12 years later. That's more than Arsenal.

The jibes have had more merit since 1984, but Spurs simply aren't 'Spursy' any more – and that's largely down to manager Mauricio Pochettino.

In his five years at the club the Argentinian has transformed Spurs from laughed-at losers to a serious force in England and Europe.

All the more remarkably, he's done so without spending much money, certainly not in comparison to domestic or continental rivals.

It's beyond obvious that Manchester United should have broken the bank to secure his services, rather than over-paying for and to players.

Spurs are now over-achievers and, quite rightly, proud of it – but they and 'Poch' won't be satisfied with the achievement of reaching the club's first ever Champions League Final.

While Liverpool were deserved winners when the clubs met in the league at Wembley, they were fortunate victors at Anfield, and could well have lost that match.

The Reds will be favourites in Saturday's final, but Spurs are more than capable of beating them.

Whatever the outcome, it will end one other tiresome jibe

There may be those billing this as final between two bosses who have won 'no trophies'- but those are xenophobic sorts with a Little Englander mentality. The same sort of people who never gave Rafa Benitez any credit for winning La Liga twice (and a Uefa Cup) with Valencia.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, of course, won the Bundesliga twice with Borussia Dortmund. It's entirely a coincidence, obviously, that no one has topped Bayern Munich in Germany since then. Eye rolls.

Klopp has done amazing work with Liverpool: this will be their third European Final since he arrived in October 2015.

It will also be his third Champions League Final, having been unfortunate to lose out with Dortmund at Wembley in 2013 against, yep, Bayern.

Liverpool getting to Madrid is arguably as astonishing as Spurs doing so. Never mind words, if phrases could be ruled out, there'd be an end to anyone asking of Liverpool supporters 'Where's your famous atmosphere?', or scoffing about 'another famous European night at Anfield'.

The Reds also scored three second half goals in the second leg of their semi-final, albeit at home, against a Barcelona team containing the brilliant Lionel Messi.

They will feel they can make up for last year's final loss against Real Madrid every bit as much as Spurs may believe that 'their name is on the trophy'.

This week in Europe illustrates the financial power of English clubs, all the more so given that the biggest spenders of recent times, Manchester City and United, are not involved in either final.

The fact that Saturday's big one is between Liverpool and Spurs is down to more than money, though, it's due to two fab bosses.

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Tonight's Europa League Final is also an all-English affair, between London rivals Arsenal and Chelsea, but it's just half a Champions League play-off and half a Petr Cech testimonial.

Only the Gunners have that Champions League prize to play for as Chelsea have already qualified by finishing third in the English league.

Arsenal have the advantage of Europa League expert Unai Emery in their dugout, a manager who never seems to get, er, bored of this competition. He won a hat-trick of Europa Leagues with Sevilla, capped off by beating Klopp's Liverpool in the 2016 decider.

However, clearly there's less pressure on Chelsea to win, which may help them to do so. Some of their players have the experience of having won the Champions League (in 2012) and the Europa League the next season (under that loser Benitez).

Chelsea also still have the fantastic Eden Hazard, in what may be his farewell appearance for the club – and the same may apply to their boss Maurizio Sarri.

Arsenal have the better finishers, but their defence is dodgy – it's really 'toss of a coin' whether they will get into the big money competition next season.

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