Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat by Real Madrid in Paris will linger for some time given the nature of the Reds’ performance. The Reds had most of the chances but were unable to take them – largely due to the dominating Thibaut Courtois – and were then met by an efficient, experienced Real side.
A few weeks ago the possibility of a quadruple was still open and the excitement was high. Ending the season on a double disappointment as Real moved to Manchester City to dampen spirits is a slap in the face of summer. But while they don’t want that now, Liverpool should take comfort in their performance – and the differences from their previous heartbreak in the Champions League final against Real Madrid.
In 2018, Liverpool were far behind in the Klopp rebuild. Six of those who started in Kyiv also started in Paris while much of the squad remains the same. Losing at the Stade de France is a huge blow, but the players and their coach need only look at what happened after their defeat four years ago and draw some parallels.
A good start is to check out Klopp’s post-match comments following the 3-1 defeat in the 2018 final following Gareth Bale’s brace, Loris Karius’ nightmare and Sergio Ramos’ injury to Mohamed Salah.
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“I’m not doing well, I’m the opposite of good, but I’m trying to be professional,” said Klopp. “I’ve said it a couple of times, I’ll be 51 next month or so, I’ve lost games in my life before, I’ve won games in my life before – I know how to deal with that. What you can’t avoid is the feeling you have the night after the game. We all feel very, very bad and going home won’t be the best journey of our lives but we have to accept it now. We wanted everything and got nothing or minus something with Mo’s injury.
This is not a manager who takes defeat well. The Kyiv final left a very bitter taste in the mouth considering Salah’s injury and the other accompanying factors. But Liverpool bounced back, winning the next Champions League final against Tottenham and establishing themselves as one of the dominant forces in European football.
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They did it once and they can do it again. Comparing Klopp’s mood in Kyiv to Paris shows how far they’ve come – and how optimistic his outlook is. “These guys played an outstanding season. The two competitions we didn’t win, we didn’t win by the smallest possible margin – one point, 1-0,” he said this time.
“What is written there? [Manchester] City were a point better during the season and Madrid were a goal better tonight. That says nothing about us. The difference between 2018 and now is that I see us coming back. In 2018 I wished for it, but I couldn’t know. But these guys are really competitive, they have an amazing attitude, it’s a fantastic group and we’ll definitely be back. And tomorrow we celebrate the season.”
As Klopp says, Liverpool will leave again. This summer may well be one of regeneration but with Klopp on board until June 2026 following his recent contract extension they are in a good place to restore their credentials.