Harry Kane and Mohamed Salah meet as icons craving their first taste of nirvana | Barney Ronay

Champions League final’s star forwards have countless goals between them – but no major trophies. In Madrid one will shed the nearly-man tag

Hanging on to a rising balloon presents you with a difficult decision: let go before it’s too late, or hold on and keep getting higher. When Harry Kane injured his ankle in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Manchester City, Tottenham’s chances of ending their season in Madrid on Saturday night seemed to have narrowed to a fine point.

Kane has of course been the razor edge and all-round attacking totem of Mauricio Pochettino’s team, with an entire system set up to funnel and shift around him. Yet fast forward two months and in his absence Spurs have become something else in Europe, a team built to feed on speed and counter-thrusts, given teeth by the emergence of Lucas Moura as a highly mobile false-ish No 9; and the established hyper-energetic brilliance of Son Heung-min.

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