Mohamed Salah gets one after another in the Champions League final but keeps failing at the same person. Real Madrid destroyed Liverpool FC's dream of winning the title and won the duel between the best clubs in Europe.
The duel of the two best teams in European club football. What sounds like a controversial opinion and encourages some fans to formulate the first arguments as to why their own favorite club belongs in this discussion can be proven in a classic way with facts. Liverpool FC are in the final of the Champions League for the third time in five years, for Real Madrid it is the fifth final appearance in the past nine years, the top figures in these statistics. It is therefore almost logical that these two teams should now meet at the Stade de France in the Paris suburb of Saint-Denis. For the third time in the final of the highest European Cup.
And while the Madrilenians were fond of recalling the 3-1 win in the 2017/18 final, when substitute Gareth Bale's two goals secured Real's third Champions League title in a row, Liverpool serves as the venue near the French capital as a good omen. The final of the then European Cup of Champions took place in Paris in the 1980/81 season, when the two clubs met in a major final for the first time. The result back then: Liverpool 1, Real Madrid 0. So now the third duel in which the winner can expect the prestigious trophy, which in its current version is around 75 centimeters tall and weighs eight kilograms.
And in the end, strange as it may sound in view of the one-sided course of the game, it is only logical that Real Madrid triumphed for the 14th time in this competition. Sure, the performance in this final was not a football gala, as the club's claim suggests, but: Who first the billionaire team Paris St. Germain, then the defending champion FC Chelsea, then the supposed over-elf from Manchester City and finally Liverpool FC defeated, legitimately wears Europe's football crown. Especially since the Madrilenians have been undefeated in Champions League finals since that defeat in Paris' Prinzenpark in 1981. 1998, 2000, 2002, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018 and now 2022.
Liverpool: Alisson - Alexander-Arnold, Konate, van Dijk, Robertson - Fabinho - Henderson (77 Keita), Thiago (77 Firmino) - Salah, Mané, Diaz (65 Diogo Jota). - Coach: KloppReal: Courtois - Carvajal, Eder Militao, Alaba, Mendy - Casemiro - Modric (90th Ceballos), Kroos - Valverde (85th Camavinga), Benzema, Vinicius Junior (90th 3 Rodrygo). - Coach: AncelottiReferee: Clement Turpin (France) Goal: 0:1 Vinicius Junior (59th) Spectators: 75,000 (sold out) Yellow cards: Fabinho -
1st minute: After massive delays and chaotic scenes when entering the Stade de France, especially for Liverpool fans, the final begins 37 minutes late.
Initial phase: In all the ambiguity about the conditions in which the apparently still uncompleted admission takes place here, this really great finale loses some of its appeal. Especially since UEFA is apparently trying to simply shift the responsibility for this onto the fans. Although she herself is at least partly to blame for these complications - after all, there were also reports in the recent Europa League final between Eintracht Frankfurt and Rangers from Glasgow about how miserably the fans were treated.
16 minutes: Almost the lead for Liverpool! Trent Alexander-Arnold brings the ball low into the penalty area from the right, Mohamed Salah finishes in the middle from a short distance. Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois reacts great and saves the goal.
21 minutes: The royal defense is shaking enormously! Sadio Mané is on the edge of the penalty area against several defenders, but no one can separate him from the ball. Instead, the Reds' number 10 deducts, Courtois just gets his hand on it and deflects the shot to the inside post.
30 minutes: Liverpool leaves Real no room at all to build up the game. At the latest in the center circle, the pressure is so great that the passes become hectic, and the ball keeps running back into the defense or even to Courtois. When Liverpool have possession of the ball, the Madrilenians sometimes have eight in their own penalty area. The only good thing from their point of view is that it's still 0-0.
34 minutes: Again Alexander-Arnold, again on Salah, this time as a high cross. The Egyptian heads in from eight yards but doesn't put enough power into it to seriously challenge Courtois. So far it doesn't look like Eintracht Frankfurt has to prepare for the European Supercup against Real Madrid as an opponent.
44 minutes: NO GOAL FOR REAL MADRID! After minutes of analysis, the video assistant radioed referee Clement Turpin: offside. Before that, David Alaba plays a great diagonal pass to Benzema, who has a lot of space in front of goal. Alisson and Ibrahima Konate seem to have the situation under control, but bother each other. Fede Valverde intervenes, plays the ball to Fabinho's knee, then pushes in Benzema. Then determined...
... the video assistant until injury time before it says: offside. A complicated decision that, at first glance, raises more question marks than clarity. However, a lead for Real Madrid given Liverpool's crushing dominance was pretty typical of how Los Blancos made it to this final.
58 minutes: Liverpool demands a penalty, doesn't get it, and that's the right decision. Salah is looking for the end in the center of the penalty area, but only hits Alaba and complains about handball. But was the lower body, keep playing.
59 minutes: TOOOOOR FOR REAL MADRID: It's the story of this Champions League season. The opponent plays and Real Madrid celebrates. Valverde has a lot of space on the right, pulls diagonally from 20 meters. The ball seems to rush far past the goal at the far corner - but suddenly Vinicius Jr. appears there and pushes in. Liverpool makes the game, Madrid the goal.
64 minutes: Salah against Courtois, the next. The striker pulls in from the left 25 meters in front of the goal, then holds it powerfully from 22 meters. In goal, however, is Courtois, the outstanding man of the evening so far, who also fends off this situation with confidence.
69 minutes: Again Salah against Courtois, the Belgian wins again. Diogo Jota heads the ball across in front of the goal, Salah tries to insert it from a very acute angle. But there is still the Real goalkeeper who is still undefeated.
82 minutes: Courtois continues to tower! Long ball on Salah, who immediately seeks a degree - and fails again at Courtois. He directs the shot around the post with his arm.
90 3rd minute: Liverpool are pushing, but they can't get through against Real's defence. Toni Kroos calls for the ball in midfield, lets himself be fouled - and the celebration preparations finally begin on the Madrilenians' bench.
Thibaut Courtois. Not a surprise, of course, but as with Liverpool's attacking efforts, there's no escaping the Real Madrid goalkeeper. Against Mo Salah alone, the Belgian made outstanding saves on several occasions, repelling several seemingly unstoppable shots with brilliant positioning and even stronger reflexes. It doesn't need much more words for that, if you have a moment to spare, you can watch the highlights of this master class in goal prevention again on the playback medium of your choice. Or as Jürgen Klopp said afterwards on ZDF, both appreciatively and humorously: "When the opponent's goalkeeper is 'man of the match', that's always shitty news."
Toni Kroos, of course, who is still misunderstood in Germany as "cross pass Toni", but has played a key and formative role in this real team for years. For the fifth time, the 106-time former German national player wins the Champions League, after winning the title with FC Bayern in 2013 now for the fourth time with the Madrilenians. Plus world champions, three Spanish and three German champions, five club world champions, three DFB Cup winners, four UEFA Supercup winners... and that's not all.
And praise is also appropriate for Carlo Ancelotti at this point. The Italian is often criticized for his allegedly too relaxed manner, but in the end he is the most successful coach in the history of the competition. After 2003 and 2007 - each with AC Milan - and 2014 with Real Madrid, this is his fourth title in the Champions League and nobody can match that. The successful heroic football that the Royals cultivate with their many apparently fortunate victories this European Cup season is also a testament to the unshakable self-confidence that Ancelotti gives to his professionals.
The incidents at the admission controls, the 37-minute delay in the kick-off and the question of who is responsible for this sometimes health-threatening chaos must be clarified in detailed and thorough investigations after this final. However, the fact that UEFA has been the focus of this criticism for the second time in a short space of time after the Europa League final is also an expression of the indifference that modern football has towards the average stadium visitor. It should shine for the viewers on the screens and in the important places, everything else is apparently unimportant.