“Honestly I have to say that in the final I prefer the real Madrid”pronounced Mohammed Salah with total conviction after Liverpoolhis team, will beat Villarreal in the semifinals of the Champions League. The long-awaited wish of the Egyptian crack was fulfilled the day after his statement: the white club won a dramatic key against Manchester City and qualified for the final against the ‘Reds’. Four years having passed since the ‘Orejona’ dispute between the two teams in kyiv, ‘Mo’ decides not to forget the difficult chapter he lived in the Ukrainian capital to have a personal revenge with the meringues in the magnificent Paris, which is already awaiting for him.
Jürgen Klopp, who trains and supports Salah For five years, he has not believed in revenge beyond all the condiments that surrounded that 2017/18 final. “I don’t think it’s right”, it states. But the German strategist cannot control the minds of his players, who are vastly different from him, not only in age, but also analytically and emotionally.
That is why the spotlights, now, point to Mohammed Salah. And as? A shoulder injury, caused by Sergio Ramos, took him off the field, disconsolate, just 30 minutes into that remembered final. What came after was a painful 3-1 defeat for his team in the Ukrainian capital, where Real Madrid raised its last ‘Orejona’.
Asked about that moment, ‘Mo’ showed that the wound is still open and he intends to close it definitively this Saturday. “I remember when I left the field after 30 minutes, it was the worst moment of my career. ”recalled the Egyptian star in the run-up to the final in Paris.
How much has changed?
As Salah himself said, in the 2017/18 campaign -precisely in which his adventure with Liverpool began- he had a quite optimal performance at an individual level. In fact, it was the most prosperous season of his entire career. The Egyptian formed a phenomenal trident with Sadio Mane Y Roberto Firminobeing the one that obtained the best records of the three.
Counting all competitions, . Exceptional numbers. He was the top scorer in the Premier League with 32 goals in 36 games (0.89 average) and was the second highest scorer in the Champions League with 10 goals in 13 games (0.77 average), just below Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored five goals more in the same number of games.
For him it was his first final and getting there was not easy. Liverpool he had to chart his glorious path in 2017/18 from the third qualifying round of the tournament with the Egyptian as his champion. Succeeding in all rounds, ‘Mo’ dreamed of winning the Champions League that year, but the shoulder injury in kyiv prevented him from helping his team snatch the title from Real Madrid.
After that day, things didn’t change much for Mohamed Salah. The crack of the ‘Reds’ continued to score goals everywhere, .
But not only that. At the level of titles, the Egyptian striker conquered the most important of his career the year after losing it to Real Madrid: the Champions League. In 2018/19, Liverpool beat Tottenham in the final (2-0) with the signing of ‘Mo’ in one of the goals.
The trophies of the 2019 European Super Cup and the 2019 Club World Cup also shine in the player’s record, in addition to the awards in the 2019/20 Premier League and the League Cup and the FA Cup won this season in the local area.
There is no doubt that Salah he has kept his performance at the top all this time that has passed. It is clear that he has not repeated a goalscoring production like that of 2017/18, but currently few can refute that he is the best in the world in his position.
Not by chance, his name has been constantly on the Ballon d’Or lists, although he has not yet managed to get on the podium of this award. Today, he has that great opportunity to get it. Being the leader of Liverpool in the final against Madrid, the Egyptian will try to show that he deserves the highest individual award over Karim Benzema, who has won the favorite ‘cap’ so far. That duel will be separate.
The enormous wear of the season
It is impressive the great physical demand that he has had Mohammed Salah in this 2021/22. According to a report by FIFPro, the Egyptian crack is one of those who has had the most wear and tear during the season among the protagonists of Saturday’s final.
According to the data from the group of footballers, the Liverpool winger -55 with the ‘Reds’ and 14 with his national team- having a break of less than five days in 55% of the total matches. In Paris, ‘Mo’ will arrive quite demanding with around in his high-tops.
Comparing with his other peers analyzed in the study, Salah He has played the same number of games as Mané and eight more than Virgil van Dijk. Of course, the Senegalese attacker has accumulated 5,368 minutes played in the season, while the Dutch center-back has added 5,807 minutes, both less than the Egyptian.
However, no player in the Madrid squad comes close to the requirement that the players of the Liverpool have had before the final. Vinicius Junior, the one who has had the most activity on the merengue squad, has played 59 games (10 less than Salah) with 5,011 accumulated minutes.
For his part, Karim Benzema – the protagonist of the separate duel with ‘Mo’ – has played 52 games during the campaign, in which he has added 4,591 minutes. The French will arrive more rested than the Egyptian in that sense, something that he can take advantage of perfectly in the field. Although it is clear that the Frenchman is five years older than Salahso the great difference in their demands also passes through there.