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Who will hold their nerve in a shoot-out?


Jurgen Klopp would have paid double if he had known how good Alisson really is. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp would have paid double if he had known how good Alisson really is. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp would have paid double if he had known how good Alisson really is. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Surely tomorrow night's Champions League final won't go to a penalty shoot-out? Or will it? Since 2000, six finals remained undecided after extra time.

In 2016, it took a penalty shoot-out before Real Madrid were crowned at the San Siro instead of Atletico Madrid

The only other time two Premier League clubs squared off in a Champions League final, a fraught penalty shoot-out decided the winners.

And, as they watched Manchester United and Chelsea strain in the Moscow rain, no one could have predicated that the imperious Cristiano Ronaldo, who'd headed home United's goal on 26 minutes, would miss his shot in the shoot-out. Or, with the opportunity to seal the deal by scoring a fifth for Chelsea, captain John Terry would slip and see his miss-hit kick glance off the outside of the post.

With four goals and one miss apiece, the match went to sudden death.

Anderson scored for United. Kalou scored for Chelsea. Giggs, who'd come on as a sub late in the second half, scored.

A composed Nicolas Anelka watched United keeper Edwin van der Sar indulge in a bit of brinkmanship by indicating he was expecting yet another shot to his left. Anelka shot right and the 'keeper was there to block it.

For the Man United fans "sudden death" became la petite mort as a surge of relief overwhelmed them.

Supporters of both Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur will not want to experience similar nerve-shredding trauma.

But if it means their side is still in which a chance after an intense 120 minutes of football, they'll undoubtedly agree to be subjected to the excruciating torture these spot kick deciders bring to the fray.

Many are probably preparing themselves for such an eventuality, with Liverpool fans convincing themselves that they are big match shoot-out kings. The Reds have already won two Champions League finals and a semi-final on penalties.

Having dispatched Roma in 1984 (the European Champion Clubs' Cup), Milan in 2005 and Chelsea in the 2007 semi-final, many believe high-stakes penalty taking has become part of the club's DNA.

But a football fan's life is nothing if not wracked by existential doubt. So you can be sure most Koppites will be picking at the scar that was defeat in the 2016 League Cup final, when, 1-1 AET, Jurgen Klopp was denied a first trophy as Liverpool boss by Manchester City in a 3-1 penalty shoot-out defeat.

This is a different Liverpool, with goal-hungry sharpshooters Fabinho, Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, James Milner and Sadio Mané among those likely to be queuing up to place the ball on the white spot.

Sure, Mané missed one against Red Star Belgrade and Jordan Henderson had an unhappy experience against Colombia in last year's World Cup, but they're fearless.

Spurs' Harry Kane, Kieran Trippier and Eric Dier all scored for England in that international shoot-out.

So if tomorrow's match goes to penalties, Spurs' boss Mauricio Pochettino won't be short of men with experience of big-match pressure.

Christian Eriksen, Son Hueng-Min, Lucas Moura and Dele Alli will all want to make history.

Erik Lamela and Fernando Llorente also know a thing or two about successful penalty-taking.

Of course, the goalkeeper is often the star of the shoot-out, making the vital save.

Spurs travel to Madrid with four 'keepers. Captain and World Cup winning France international Hugo Lloris says: "You just have to try to be ready to be at your best in the most important moments."

Liverpool's record signing, Alisson, inspires confidence. "If I knew he was this good, I'd have paid double," said manager Klopp a few months ago.

What can we expect tomorrow?

Klopp says it will be "lively." Pochettino says it will be "different."

Don't bet against this spectacle ending with a dramatic final act.