Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was understandably dejected after his side lost to Real Madrid 1-0 in the Champions League final – but backed his ‘outstanding’ side to bounce back next season and reach the 2023 final in Istanbul.
Vinicius Junior’s second-half goal was good enough to earn Real a record-extending 14th European Cup/Champions League win, though Liverpool were on top for large periods of the game in Paris.
Unfortunately for Klopp and his Liverpool players, they came up against an inspired Thibaut Courtois in the Real Madrid goal. The Belgian made countless saves to deny the likes of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota, setting the record for most stops in a Champions League final.
Speaking to BT Sport after the game, a disappointed Klopp admitted his players were hurting, but backed his side to bounce back in style – suggesting supporters go ahead and book their hotels in Istanbul, the stage for next season’s Champions League final.
“In the dressing room nobody feels it was a great season at the moment. We maybe need a few hours for that,” Klopp said. “It was the two decisions against us were the smallest margins possible.
“We played a good game, not a perfect game. I don’t think a perfect game is possible against an opponent set up with a deep formation.
“We had a lot of shots but not the clearest. Courtois made two top saves. We conceded a goal from a throw-in. Valverde wanted to shoot, Vinicius was there and that’s it.
“The boys tried everything, especially at 1-0 down then we played like we wanted to play before. We had our midfielders too deep. It’s a threat they are with counter attacks. We wanted to be more brave in the second half. That’s what we said at half-time. We played around them. We should have played more in the formation than around them.
“It feels different. It’s not bad to get to the final. It’s a kind of success. Not the success you want to have.
“I have a strong feeling we’ll come again. The boys are really competitive. It’s an outstanding group together. We will have an outstanding group next season.
“Where’s it next season? Istanbul? Book the hotel.”
Liverpool end the season with two trophies to their name after success in the Carabao Cup and FA Cup, having been on track for most of the campaign for an unprecedented quadruple.