Sports, Football

Salah eyes CL revenge against Real

Published : 27 May 2022 08:08 PM

"We have a score to settle," Mohamed Salah posted on social media moments after Real Madrid set up a re-match with Liverpool in Saturday's Champions League final.

Salah's first appearance in European club football's showpiece game came to an agonisingly premature end in Kyiv four years ago.

The Egypt forward made a tearful first-half exit after suffering a shoulder injury in a challenge with Real defender Sergio Ramos, who was accused of cynically slamming his opponent into the turf.

Madrid went on to win 3-1 and Salah has never been able to shake the bitter memories of that night.

"That was the worst moment in my career," the 29-year-old said at Liverpool's pre-match media day this week. "I was really, really down in that time.

"I was like: 'We cannot lose this way.' I never felt that feeling before in football, especially the first Champions League (final) for all of us."

Salah made amends 12 months later, scoring a penalty as Liverpool beat Tottenham to be crowned European champions for the sixth time.

But even though Ramos has since moved on to Paris Saint-Germain, Salah would dearly love to make Real pay when they meet again at the Stade de France this weekend.

"I think it is revenge time," Salah said as he picked up his award as the Football Writers' Association player of the year earlier this month.

While Salah has retaliation on his mind, he travels to Paris besieged by concerns over his form, his fitness and even his long-term future at Liverpool.

His 23rd goal of the Premier League season against Wolves on Sunday meant he finished as the joint top-scorer in the competition alongside Tottenham's Son Heung-min.

It is the third time he has topped the charts and he added lustre to his season by also finishing as the top provider of assists.

Yet the stunning early-season form that secured Salah the writers' honour has deserted him in recent months.

His 31st club goal of the campaign as Liverpool narrowly lost out to Manchester City in the Premier League title race on Sunday was just his third in his past 17 games for club and country. That run includes a defeat on penalties against teammate Sadio Mane's Senegal in a World Cup play-off, a repeat of the result in the final of the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year. The demands of an exhausting season are beginning to show even before the final in Paris, for a player who is rarely injured.

Salah was forced off early in Liverpool's FA Cup final victory over Chelsea and did not start either of their final two league games to ensure he was fit to face Madrid.

The caution shown by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, whose side were chasing an unprecedented quadruple until they were pipped to the league title by City, is understandable.