Mohamed Salah’s Champions League final motivation was summed up in a six-word tweet posted moments after Real Madrid completed a dramatic resurrection against Manchester City to set up a meeting in Paris.
“We have a score to settle,” announced Salah, a superstar of few words but barely able to conceal the hint of menace in his message to the team responsible for the worst night of his Liverpool career.
When Liverpool meets Real Madrid in the Stade de France today, memories of a balmy May evening in Kyiv four years ago – when Jurgen Klopp’s side was beaten 3-1 – will be painfully revived for Salah.
That night in Ukraine contained many striking images, from the sight of Liverpool keeper Loris Karius alone and in tears at the final whistle after his calamitous performance gifted Real two goals, to the acrobatic bicycle kick from Gareth Bale to put Real on the path to victory.
But for Liverpool, it was the sight of a tearful Salah receiving a consoling pat from Cristiano Ronaldo as he walked off heartbroken after only 30 minutes, following a mischievous tangle with Real’s enforcer-in-chief Sergio Ramos that encapsulated the agony.
Ramos, of course, pleaded his innocence but Salah and Liverpool will never sway from the belief he was targeted by a master of the defensive dark arts, a challenge and fall that caused serious damage to Salah’s shoulder, forcing his early departure.
Liverpool manager Klopp was measured as he said: “I don’t believe in revenge or think revenge is a fantastic idea. I understand what Mo said. He wants to put it right, but in Germany, we say you always meet twice in life.”
Klopp’s words somewhat overlook the fact that he and Salah actually met Real Madrid again and came out on the wrong end of a 3-1 aggregate score in last season’s quarter-final. However, those games were staged in surreal atmospheres behind closed doors.