The Wanda Group’s sponsorship of Atletico Madrid’s stadium will reach its apex when it hosts the Champions League final on June 1. The Beijing-based property developer and investment firm has owned the naming rights on the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium since the start of the 2017/18 season. It has hosted some huge clashes in La Liga and in Europe, but the Champions League final is the biggest game of all and it will result in phenomenal exposure for the group. Liverpool and Tottenham will battle it out for glory in the big game and hundreds of millions of fans across the globe will watch the action unfold.
Liverpool surged through to the final with a remarkable victory over Barcelona at Anfield on May 7. The Reds trailed 3-0 on aggregate after Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi put them to the sword at Camp Nou in the first leg. Leading bookmakers such as the highly rated Bovada made Barcelona enormous favorites to surge through to the final. However, Liverpool turned things around in sensational style on a stirring night at Anfield, despite missing Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino through injury. Two goals apiece from Divock Origi and Giorginio Wijnaldum put Liverpool into the final and they are now clear favorites to lift the trophy.
However, first they must get past Spurs, who produced a stunning comeback of their own to usurp Ajax on Wednesday. The Dutch outfit won the first leg 1-0 in London and then produced a strong first-half display in Amsterdam. It was 2-0 to Ajax at half-time and 3-0 on aggregate, so Tottenham looked dead and buried, but a 35-minute hat-trick from Lucas Moura saw them level the tie at 3-3 and they progressed to the final via the away goals rule. The Brazilian’s third came in the sixth minute of stoppage time, so it was utterly heart-breaking for Ajax fans, and Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino wept tears of joy.
It should be a tremendous all-Premier League final, but sadly for local fans neither Madrid team will be present. Real Madrid won the competition for the past three seasons, but were unceremoniously dumped out in the last 16 by Ajax this time around. Atletico Madrid looked to be cruising through when they beat Juventus 2-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano in the last 16, but a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick broke their hearts in the second leg and sent Juventus through. Yet the Italian champions could not progress any further as they too were vanquished by Ajax.
That makes Tottenham’s triumph over the Dutch side look all the more impressive, but they will be underdogs for the final. Spurs are 24 points behind Liverpool in the Premier League standings, and Jurgen Klopp’s men beat them home and away in the league this season. That should give Liverpool a psychological advantage heading into this game, but Tottenham never give up and they certainly have the tools to go on and win the Champions League.
JanVertonghen and Toby Alderweireld have formed a titanic partnership at the back for many years, while Christian Eriksen is a creative genius, Dele Alli is always dangerous, Son Heung-Min is having a great season and Moura goes from strength to strength. They could also welcome Harry Kane back for the showdown at the Wanda Metropolitano. But Liverpool also have a feared attacking triumvirate in Salah, Firmino and Sadio Mane, while Virgil Van Dijk has transformed their defense. The difference could be in midfield, where Fabinho was superb against Barcelona. Alongside Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson and co, they could well overrun Mohamed Sissoko and Victor Wanyama. But it looks like developing into a thrilling clash and it will catapult the Wanda Group into the international spotlight.