Treble-chasing Manchester City face a Tottenham side desperate to end their trophy drought in the League Cup final as two members of the failed European Super League clash at Wembley on Sunday.
Just seven days after the bombshell revelation that City and Tottenham were among 12 clubs plotting the breakaway Super League, they will contest the first major silverware of the English season.
Alarmed by the furious public backlash against the Super League, City’s Abu Dhabi-based owners were the first to lose their nerve when they pulled out on Tuesday.
City’s exit sparked a chain reaction that saw Tottenham withdraw along with fellow Premier League teams Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal.
The tournament was dead in the water only 48 hours after its launch.
But amid grovelling apologies from owners, supporters remain furious at the cynical betrayal and there have been calls for sanctions against the six Premier League teams.
Against that explosive backdrop, it is ironic the League Cup will be the focus of attention for two of the Super League founders this weekend.
If the competition — effectively a closed-shop replacement for the Champions League — had gone ahead, it was said the increased midweek fixture list could have killed off the League Cup.
Given both clubs would gladly have turned their backs on the League Cup forever, it would be no surprise if there are protesters and dissenting voices among the 8,000 fans allowed into Wembley this weekend.
But for City manager Pep Guardiola and Tottenham caretaker boss Ryan Mason the goal in the build-up to the final has been keeping their players focused on the pitch rather than letting the Super League furore distract them.
After beating Aston Villa 2-1 on Wednesday, City need eight points from their last five league games to win the English title for a third time in four seasons.
On Wednesday, they take on Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League semi-final first leg.
– Wounded Spurs -City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is a doubt with the foot injury suffered in last weekend’s quadruple-ending FA Cup semi-final defeat against Chelsea.