PARIS ( Associated Press) — Sixty-three games. Four losses. Two trophies.
And a lot of disappointment.
That is the scenario facing the Liverpool players as they return home on Sunday from their painful defeat in the Champions League final in Paris for a trophy parade through their city.
They will smile on that bus. They will accept the applause of their fans. But deep down, they will think about what could have been.
“Even if nobody on this planet understood that we have a parade, we will do it,” Klopp said, “and I really hope that everyone who has the chance to get to Liverpool will be there and celebrate with us a fantastic season that we all had together.
“It didn’t end the way we wanted. But yeah, that’s the facts.”
Just a week ago Liverpool was on the cusp of immortality. A quadruple of major trophies, arguably the best club season in football history, was within reach.
Except that Manchester City pulled off a surprising late comeback – three goals in five minutes – in a final-day win in the Premier League last weekend to finish a point ahead of Liverpool. Klopp’s charges then lost 1-0 to Real Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday and were denied a seventh European Cup.
The history books will say that Liverpool finished the 2021-22 season with the League Cup and FA Cup trophies, both secured in penalty shootouts after goalless draws.
Somehow it all feels so empty, even though it really shouldn’t.
“The dressing room is silent, devastated,” Liverpool left-back Andrew Robertson said.
The fan problems surrounding the final in Paris also leave a bitter taste at the end of a long season that could have taken its toll on Liverpool, who had players on the pitch who were not 100% fit and could have arrived mentally fatigued. to the last game of the four tournaments in which they competed.
However, while it wasn’t the Reds’ smoothest and sharpest performance at the Stade de France, they took 24 shots on goal compared to Real Madrid’s four and it took a performance worthy of being considered the best of the match. from the goalkeeper of the merengue team, Thibaut Courtois, to beat Liverpool.
Courtois declared that his fingertip save from Senegal’s Sadio Mané’s shot in the first half was his best intervention, although it was truly amazing to see the Belgian goalkeeper barely deflect Egyptian Mohamed Salah’s forehand in the 81st minute with his palm. of his right hand.
There was a lot of talk about Madrid having a winning culture that other teams can’t match – and the Spanish club’s trophies are proof of that – but victory could easily have gone to the English side.
As Klopp put it: “They scored a goal, we didn’t. That’s the easiest explanation in the world of football.”
“When the goalkeeper is the man of the match,” he added, “then something is wrong for the other team.”
Liverpool know how to respond to big setbacks. After losing the 2018 Champions League final, also to Madrid, the team bounced back by winning the tournament the following year.
When Liverpool narrowly missed the Premier League title by one point in 2019, they lifted the title the following year.
It’s no surprise, then, that Klopp seemed optimistic.
“I have a strong feeling that we will return,” he stressed. “The boys are very competitive. It is an exceptional group united. We will have an outstanding group next season.”
And your message to the fans?
“Where will it be next season?” he asked about the final of the next edition of the Champions League. “Istanbul? Book the hotel.”
Steve Douglas is on Twitter at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80