The first major trophy of the English domestic season is up for grabs on Sunday as Chelsea and Liverpool meet at Wembley for the 62nd EFL Cup final. No side has won the competition more frequently than the Reds, who will be bidding to move clear of Manchester City with nine titles to their name. It would also be Jurgen Klopp’s first Wembley final win.
Yet, all of that has been overshadowed by world events in the lead-up to this final. On Saturday Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich announced that he was transferring ownership of the club to Chelsea’s charitable foundation. The sudden decision is the latest way that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has impacted Chelsea and the wider soccer world.
Chelsea won the last of their five EFL Cups in 2015 and head into the final after an impressive 2-0 win over Lille in the Champions League. Since appointing Thomas Tuchel they have not lost in three meetings with Jurgen Klopp, a record they would dearly like to extend at Wembley. Here is how you can watch the match and what you need to know:
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Date: Sunday, Feb. 28 | Time: 11:30 a.m. ET
Location: Wembley Stadium — London
TV/Live stream: ESPN+
Odds: Chelsea +230; Draw +210; Liverpool +130 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Chelsea: Events far away from the football pitch are casting a shadow over Chelsea as the Russian invasion of Ukraine draws attention on billionaire Roman Abramovich and the club he owns. As Tuchel acknowledged, criticism will be coming to his club and gestures in support of Ukraine from around the ground may be seen in the minutes leading up to kick off.
“I am aware of all these scenarios and discussions, at the moment I would love to take my right not to comment until there is a decision made, but we are aware of it,” said Tuchel. “It’s distracting and worrying us. To a certain degree I can understand it, the critical opinions towards the club and us in the end who represent the club.
“We cannot fully free ourselves from it, but maybe people also understand that me as a coach or the players don’t have the insight what is really going on.”
Liverpool: Roberto Firmino will be missing for the Reds at Wembley but there is still hope that Diogo Jota could feature as he battles back from injury. Jurgen Klopp has never won at England’s national stadium, losing the 2013 Champions League final with Borussia Dortmund and the 2016 EFL Cup Final.
When Sky Sports reminded him of his two losses at Wembley he joked: “That’s good, because usually I do it (win) the third time. That’s the story of my life, a little bit – it’s like this with the Champions League, it’s like this with other things as well. So, it’s a good sign and a bad sign. I like the stadium and I liked it when we were there. Both games were really close. Both times we performed pretty well, which is good when you play a final. Yes, both times we lost, but I’m more than happy to try it more.”
These two sides have been rather evenly matched in their two drawn encounters so far this season. Expect that to continue. PICK: Chelsea 1 Liverpool 1, Liverpool win on penalties