The 2018 Champions League final ended in tears for Mohamed Salah, with the Egyptian superstar forced out of Liverpool’s biggest game of the season after just 31 minutes. He had chosen to tangle with Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos, and was left wishing he had run in the opposite direction.
A World Cup-winning center-half famed for doing whatever it takes to help his side to victory had successfully removed the biggest threat to the Blancos’ bid to claim a 13th European crown. At the final whistle, Ramos was able to enjoy the last laugh.
Fast forward four years and two familiar foes are preparing to do battle once again on the most prominent of continental stages. Some of the faces may have changed, but plenty remain the same – as does the ultimate end goal for two heavyweight outfits.
This time around, Liverpool are fancied in Champions League odds to get the job done, with Jurgen Klopp’s side priced at +105 to add a seventh continental crown to their ever-growing roll of honor.
They have lifted the most coveted of trophies since coming unstuck against Real during a memorable contest in Kyiv, with the Reds having to wait just 12 months before getting the better of domestic rivals Tottenham in Madrid at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano home.
They are now looking to repeat those heroics at Stade de France on May 28, with there the promise of more fireworks when two sides that are well versed in the demands of European competition take aim at landing an ultimate prize.
Heroes and villains
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) June 1, 2019
Salah is straining at the leash more than most heading towards that contest, with there an obvious itch for him to try and scratch when lining up against Real once more. He may have got his gold medal a year on from being forced to settle for silver, but this time it is personal.
Unfortunately for him – or maybe fortunately, depending on how you look at it – Ramos will be nowhere to be seen this around, with the veteran defender now a team-mate of former Barcelona stars Lionel Messi and Neymar at Paris Saint-Germain.
Salah has, however, been stoking the fires ahead of a meeting with Real’s class of 2021-22. He has said: “We lost in the (2018) final, it was a sad day for all of us and I think it is revenge time.”
Only time will tell whether those comments can be considered confident or cocky, with those in Madrid needing little added motivation when it comes to claiming another notable scalp. They may no longer have Ramos on at their disposal, but Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale – who netted their goals during a 3-1 win in 2018 – are still knocking around, with a certain French striker very much in the form of his life.
He will be hoping to play the role of hero once again when heading back to his homeland in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Denis, while Salah will be looking to do likewise for Liverpool, but it is his “revenge” comment that could come back to haunt the Reds as he delivers an open invitation for another villain to step forward.