How Lucas Moura can win Tottenham the Champions League
Background photo: For the Vline, CC-BY-SA 3.0
For the first time ever, Tottenham Hotspur will contest a final of Europe's elite club competition. Spurs fans must be delirious thinking about the potential bragging rights they'll hold over Arsenal if a win materializes. For that to happen, though, Mauricio Pochettino must call on his ghost warrior. He's none other than the enigmatic Brazilian, Lucas Moura.
While Tottenham were battling for their lives in a bid to qualify from a Champions League group which had Barcelona, Inter Milan and Dortmund, not many expected them to survive. At the time, the final seemed a wild goose chase. If the dead end didn’t appear then, it did when they lost at home to giant-killers Ajax before falling behind in the second leg.
However, Spurs had a Moura.
If there’s one man who’s carried Tottenham this season it’s not Harry Kane or Son Heung-min. Huge credit to the contribution of the English skipper and South Korean, but the man to revere is Moura.
The 26-year-old found the habit of scoring hat-tricks this term. He did it not once but twice. One of those came handy in pulling Spurs from the lion’s jaw in Amsterdam. The North Londoners' remarkable comeback against Ajax is already well documented.
The wonder is, how has Moura been able to perform the sort of magic he’s shown? The answer points to what we’ve come to know about a good number Brazilian footballers: they’re blessedly talented and as hardworking as horses. These guys know how to play football and win.
Moura has plundered 15 goals for Tottenham in 2018/19. A third of those strikes have come in Champions League outings. Scoring one or two more in the most important match of his career may enable him to lay hands on a trophy he's never come close to, even with the staggering riches available to Paris Saint-Germain.
Liverpool must be wary
Jurgen Klopp’s charges dumped Barcelona out of the Champions League due to stopping Lionel Messi and friends from scoring at Anfield. Shutting out Blaugrana was possible because the threat was laid bare before Virgil van Dijk and Co. In contrast, no one usually sees Moura coming.
Liverpool have been good defensively this term, but they’re not invincible. One or two forced or unforced errors will certainly be enough to pile on the misery.
"Here's Lucas Moura, OOH THEY'VE DONE IT! I CANNOT BELIEVE IT!!! LUCAS MOURA WITH THE LAST KICK OF THE GAME!!"
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Irrespective of the plaudits being heaped on Moura in this piece, he will find it nearly impossible to unlock Liverpool without sufficient help from teammates.
Rely on Moura, not Kane
Tottenham need all the assistance they can get in order to win. Relying on Kane would be a mistake. Even if the Englishman is fully fit for the final, he needs time to rebuild cohesion with the group. That doesn’t happen in one game. Also, anticipate the relentless kicks and shoves he'll receive from the composed Liverpool back-four. It wouldn't help Spurs' cause.
Moura is the man to build a strategy around. Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli, among others must find a way to pick out the diminutive forward when he makes those darting runs into the penalty area.
Moura has mastered the stealth in his playing style this season. He knows how to pop up in the right place at the right time, something Ajax found out to their cost.
Like the Grim Reaper, Moura will be there to collect should Liverpool switch off. Of course, defensive gaps are bound to appear when either Trent Alexander-Arnold or Andrew Robertson make their foray forward.
Without much debate, Moura is Tottenham's strongest player in the front three. He’s also the quickest. Even for Van Dijk, keeping such a tough, skilful player locked up for 90 or 120 minutes will take 100% commitment and concentration. Don’t count on that.
Ghosting in and bulldozing Liverpool’s rearguard is Moura’s mission. It’s hard to see him failing, really. The prediction is that his guile and panache will bag him a brace, which will be enough to win the trophy.