“WE have a score to settle”. Six words of pure fighting talk from Liverpool superstar Mohamed Salah ahead of the Champions League final.
But the Egyptian has every reason to have extra incentive to help his Reds thump Real Madrid and make it a cup Treble this season.
Il y a quatre ans, almost to the day, Liverpool took on Los Blancos in the 2018 Finale de la Ligue des champions [object Window].
Two of Europe’s most-successful clubs ever, the match was always destined to be hotly-contested.
Liverpool‘s leading man was forced off, replaced by Adam Lallana, before Real Madrid went on to win 3-1.
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And ahead of the 2022 showpiece in Paris, Salah fired a warning to the LaLiga champions, simply saying: “We have a score to settle.”
Three things stick out in the memory of every football fan following that evening: The Salah-Ramos clash, Loris Karius’ pair of howlers and Gareth Bale’s magic.
In a cagey first half, both Dani Carvajal and Salah went off injured, before Karim Benzema scored early in the second-half after Karius’ first blunder saw him throw the ball right at the Frenchman – who could simply tap into an empty net.
Sadio Mane restored parity just minutes later, before Bale was introduced by Zinedine Zidane to replace Isco.
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The Welshman scored a sensational overhead kick just two minutes after stepping onto the pitch to put Real ahead once more.
And Bale clinched victory with less than ten minutes to play as his swerving long-range effort was spilled by Karius into his own net.
For Liverpool, the match was a blessing in disguise, avec Jürgen Klopp biting the bullet and splashing out on then-Roma stopper Alisson – with the Reds since transformed.
entre-temps, Karius is back at Liverpool – but will get nowhere near the team as Klopp’s FIFTH-CHOICE stopper.
Liverpool’s XI that fateful night hasn’t changed too much – with the core of Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Salah and Mane in tact.
But the Reds’ squad has been hugely improved in the past four years with Alisson replacing Karius and Joel Matip or Ibrahima Konate coming in for Dejan Lovren.
In midfield, Thiago and Fabinho are winning their race to start the game – with James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum taking the field for the 2018 final.
In attack, Luis Diaz or Diogo Jota will likely start ahead of Firmino – who played the full 90 minutes in Kyiv.
But Real Madrid also boast a familiar core – with Carvajal, Marcelo, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Casemiro and superstar Benzema all still key figures in the 2021-22 team under Carlo Ancelotti.
Ramos has joined Paris Saint-Germain while Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane are both at Manchester United.
The likes of David Alaba and Vinicius Jr have come in to replace those big names, with Thibaut Courtois now between the stick ahead of Keylor Navas.
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But who will come out on top on Saturday night in the French capital? Will it be record 13-times champions Real or six-time winners Liverpool?
We’ll find out soon with kick-off in Paris at 8pm on Saturday May 28.