Liverpool have fought their way to their 3rd final of the season after a thrilling semi-final leg vs Villarreal. They now await either Manchester City or Real Madrid in Paris, to be played on 28th May.
After their hard earned 1-0 win vs Newcastle on the weekend, Liverpool took to the stage in Spain to seal their 3rd Champions league spot in five years of Jurgen Klopp’s reign. Holding a two-goal aggregate cushion, it was commonly viewed as an easy 90 minutes to the final. Unai Emery, however, wanted to change that narrative.
In the opening three minutes of the game, Villarreal’s Boulaye Dia snatched one back into the tie which was then astonishingly made 2-0 right before half time by Francis Coquelin. Eyebrows were raised as the reds looked truly down and out- the first champions league final spot looked as though it could be going to the Spanish club.
As the second half commenced, it became obvious to spectators around the world that Jurgen’s reds were back to their best, mostly thanks to the half time introduction of Luis Diaz, who really changed the game for both sides. They eventually scored three goals via Fabinho, Luis Diaz and Sadio Mané, giving themselves a comfortable 5-2 aggregate and overall breezed through to the final.
What could only be seen as a miracle half time talk by the Liverpool manager was revealed in the post-match interview by centre back Virgil van Dijk, who revealed the German told them to ‘play how Liverpool know how to play’ and ‘how we’ve played basically all season.’ He admitted that the players ‘had to forget about the first half as quickly as possible’ in order to regain their composure for the second half battle.
Egyptian forward Mohammed Salah also had his say on the Champions League final in an extremely honest interview, stating that he would ‘want to play Real Madrid.’ This comes as little surprise after his heartbreak of being substituted early in the 2018 final due to a shoulder injury suffered in-game.
The ‘Egyptian King’ also mentioned high expectations he sets for himself, ‘I’ve never said this but before the season started, I go for 40 goals this season and 15 assists.’ Currently sitting on 30 goals and 15 assists in all competitions, as well as 3 club finals and an Africa Cup of Nations final, you can see why his standards must be so high.
The business end of the season is well underway, and LFC are incredibly still fighting on all fronts to be the first team to tick off the unthinkable quadruple. But is it really possible? Mo Salah thinks so. When asked about the possibility, he said, ‘we are close for everything so why not?’
A remarkable season that is now coming to and end, it really is a question of all or nothing for the reds, and with the FA cup and Champions league final edging closer along with the conclusion of the Premier League, only time will tell us the outcome.