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Fuel Soccer Talk: Breaking down Champions League final; Hope Solo has no regrets; Brazil brings firepower to France

It’s Champions League weekend!!!

It’s finally here: An All-England final between Tottenham and Liverpool

The only thing left to settle for the European club season before the summer is the Champions League, and much like the Europa League final, it’s an all-English affair in Madrid as Liverpool take on Tottenham. Who will begin their holidays with a trophy and who will spend the offseason wondering what could have been?

Here is what you need to know ahead of Saturday’s game, which kicks off at 3 p.m. ET (8 p.m. BST) and is set to be played in hot temperatures.

Gabriele Marcotti broke down the game for ESPN. Among his notable notes:

WHERE THE GAME WILL BE WON OR LOST: Both teams love to exploit the flanks, and Liverpool in particular have devastating fullback-winger combinations in Andy Robertson with Sadio Mane on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold with Salah on the right. How Pochettino defends them will be key since both his full-backs (Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose) are more attack-minded. He might resort to a back three or, more likely, demand more work off the ball from his wide attacking players.

NO SILVERWARE, NO PROBLEM: Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino famously said that trophies “build egos” but league finishes and year-on-year improvement build clubs. While Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp hasn’t quite gone that far, he too is living proof that a manager’s popularity rests on far more than delivering silverware. Both are immensely loved by their fan bases, yet Pochettino has never won a trophy in his managerial career and Klopp’s last major title was in 2012, when he led Borussia Dortmund to the Bundesliga title. His record in finals isn’t great, either, having lost six of seven.

Obviously, that will change for one of these two men Saturday …

TACTICAL CONTRAST: Both managers believe in pressing, directness, high lines and speedy forwards, but Pochettino has been, often by necessity, the more pragmatic and shape-shifting of the two. Where Liverpool’s lineup has been relatively settled for much of the season, Tottenham have been hammered by injuries at various stages. As a result, Pochettino has played a variety of lineups and schemes, and going into this game, it’s hard to predict how Tottenham will take the field.

FOR THE FULL BREAKDOWN

What does Tottenham have to do to win (besides score more goals – we know that)? 

Solo has plenty of Hope moving forward, no regrets looking back

Four years ago when the United States won the Women’s World Cup in Canada, Hope Solo was the starting keeper. But she won’t be on the pitch when the US team attempts to defend its title starting on June 7 in France.

Solo was dismissed following the 2016 Olympics in Brazil after calling the Swedish team “cowards” for taking a defensive stance against the defending gold medalists. Her brilliant career on the field somewhat tainted for what happened off the pitch.

Solo has no regrets, no apologies.

“I will tell you that I am really happy where I am in life, that I fulfilled everything that I wanted to fulfill on the field,” she told the Associated Press earlier this month. “If I would have retired without a World Cup trophy, I think I never would have been able to settle into my new lifestyle. But luckily we won that 2015 World Cup and I was able to win a couple of Golden Gloves, which was a personal goal of mine, and a couple of gold medals. I hold almost every goalkeeping record. I am not sure there is much more that I could have done.”

Solo will be part of the BBC’s broadcast plans, an initiative called Change The Game that focuses on women’s sports. A focus of her post-playing career has been equal rights and pay.

What will Hope Solo’s legacy be in 10 years?

2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup: What to watch in France

Brazil’s depth & firepower!

Brazil qualified for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup – one of the seven nations that have qualified for every Women’s World Cup – by winning the 2018 Copa America Femenina in Chile. The title was Brazil’s seventh, making it by far the most successful women’s soccer nation in South America. Brazil qualified for the Women’s World Cup by finishing in first place in the final stage, winning seven matches in a row and scoring 31 goals along the way while conceding just two. They won its four opening-round games by a 22-1 margin. Despite having Marta and other big names such as Formiga, Andressinha, Thais and Cristiane, Brazil’s leading scorer was Beatriz, who scored six goals in the tournament. Fourteen of Brazil’s 19 outfield squad members at the Copa America Femenina 2018 found the net during the competition. Cristiane, who is playing in China, had four goals, as did Monica, who plays for the Orlando Pride. Andressinha and Debinha had three goals each. Marta tallied just once.

10 US PLAYERS TO WATCH IN FRANCE

LET’S TALK: OK, now you’ve read what’s on my mind…what are your thoughts on the above or any other “football” happenings?

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Main photo/graphic courtesy of Fox Sports