Liverpool suffered heartbreak in Paris by losing the Champions League final to Real Madrid 1-0, with attention turning to a summer transfer window, and Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane’s uncertain futures
It takes a big reason to walk away from something that’s so good turning your back makes no sense.
Mo Salah and Sadio Mane are at the top of their game, at a club hungry for the big prizes and with a manager who has signed up for four more years. So, leaving Anfield before the full potential of this Liverpool team has been exhausted is like having a winning lottery ticket and not cashing in.
There was no big prize for Liverpool in the Stade de France last night as they lost again to 14-time winners Real Madrid for the second time in four years. But seeing this Liverpool team break up would be a shame. For now, Salah has only said he’s staying next season while Mane won’t even go that far as Bayern Munich blatantly chase him.
Two guys already sitting on all the money they’ll ever need, surely it’s trophies and legacy that matter more? And being revered alongside greats like Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush in Liverpool’s pantheon of fame. Where else right now offers that delicious mix of satisfaction and achievement?
On a night where more Euro glory beckoned for six-time Euro Kings Liverpool, Klopp and his stars arrived 20 minutes later than planned after traffic jams. There was more drama with the game delayed over half an hour with chaos outside the Liverpool end with fans struggling to gain entry.
Tear gas was used and police batons drawn – hardly the ideal preparation for a showpiece Final. But Liverpool stars were focused only on business. And they soon set about doing everything they could to make this a night of Treble celebrations after winning both domestic cups at home.
Klopp might not have had revenge uppermost in his mind, but many of his players and the Liverpool fans who descended on the French capital hadn’t forgotten the pain of 2018. Especially Salah who in the build up referenced his continuing hurt at the Sergio Ramos rugby tackle that injured his shoulder less than half an hour into the final in Ukraine.
“We have a score to settle” was Salah’s reaction to Madrid’s place in the Final – and Liverpool started the game determined to kill off Carlo Ancelotti’s Spanish side before half time. Few teams or players need extra motivation to win a Champions League Final – certainly not one against Madrid.
But if ever there was a match where Klopp’s team-talk needed no words this was it. While the Premier League trophy was never truly within their grasp in their battle with Manchester City, this was a winnable Final perfectly teed up against ageing opponents who’s biggest threat was their history and huge love affair with the trophy.
On paper Liverpool had more of everything – energy, pace, and an explosive style that can leave opponents punch-drunk. Madrid, though, are made for this competition – and had claimed some big scalps on their way to Paris including France’s own PSG, Chelsea and maybe biggest of all, City.
And predictably the Spaniards were too good to be a blown away by the Liverpool tornado that’s dismantled so many opponents. They had Thibout Courtois to thank for that during an opening spell that brought a flurry of Liverpool shots – and one superb save by the former Chelsea keeper to push a Mane shot onto the post.
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Madrid had hardly laid eyes on Alisson in the first half, but Karim Benzema pounced with what seemed the breakthrough goal moments before the break. But after a long VAR check, it was ruled out by French referee Clement Turpin for offside on Madrid’s talisman striker.
Madrid struck again though on 58 minutes – and this time there was no reprieve for Liverpool. Trent Alexander-Arnold’s defensive skills don’t match up to his attacking prowess and was always a risk up against the danger posed by Vinicius Junior. So it proved.
The young defender switched off as Federico Valverde threaded a ball to the far post allowing the Brazilian star to steal in unmarked and fire home. It was a hammer blow for Liverpool but they kept going and only a super save by Courtois denied sub Jota.