A first trophy in seven years for Liverpool and a first win in seven finals for Juergen Klopp. The European Cup is heading back to Anfield for the sixth time and their manager is confident there is much more to come.
A beaming Klopp revealed after Saturday’s 2-0 final victory over Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid that he had received a congratulatory telephone call from Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola.
Three weeks ago, the Reds were denied a first league title in 30 years by City, despite losing just once and racking up 97 points, but winning the UEFA Champions League makes up for that disappointment.
“We promised each other already that we will kick our butts next year again,” Klopp said of his brief exchange with Guardiola in between speaking to reporters at the Metropolitano Stadium. “We will go for everything and we’ll see if we get something.”
It was a sentiment shared by center-back Virgil van Dijk as he spoke after being named man of the match in the final.
“In July when we start again, everyone starts on nil and everyone’s working towards their goals,” he said. “Obviously we want to challenge for every trophy if possible. We have the squad for it, but you’ve also seen it this year, you still have to do it.”
Liverpool had won nothing at all since defeating Cardiff City on penalties in the League Cup final in 2012. It was a trophy, but not on the same level as this.
After losing the Europa League final in 2016 and last year’s Champions League final against Real Madrid, Liverpool seized their chance this time thanks to Mohamed Salah’s early penalty and Divock Origi’s late strike.
This was already a club reborn under the German’s management, but such a tangible reward was needed, three-and-a-half years on from his arrival on Merseyside.
“Now we won something, and we will carry on,” Klopp said. “We want to win things, 100 percent. This is only the start for this group. It’s a wonderful age group. They still have the best times in their career still ahead of them, so that’s big.”
The former Borussia Dortmund coach has continually improved Liverpool in his time at the club, and nowhere was that more evident on Saturday than in goal.
Twelve months after two hideous errors by Loris Karius cost them dear against Real, his replacement Alisson showed just why Liverpool were prepared to pay ￡66.8 million (US$84.42 million) to sign him from AS Roma as he made several key saves late in the match.
Van Dijk was again outstanding too — so good that it was put to him that he could be a contender to win this year’s Ballon d’Or.
It was not a great game and it was not vintage Liverpool, but Klopp emphasized the importance of getting over the line.
Now he hopes to strengthen the side again for next season, with the new campaign starting on Aug. 10.
Four days after that, they are to play Europa League winners Chelsea in the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul, and some fans are already dreaming of a return to the Turkish city next year, when it is to host the Champions League final.
“We know that sometimes we carry the burden of history and making Istanbul happen again will be a target I would say, but it will be difficult,” Klopp said.
Their previous Champions League win came in Istanbul in 2005, when they beat AC Milan on penalties.
“To be two years in a row in the Champions League final, it’s something we hope to do every year, but we know ourselves how difficult it is to reach,” Van Dijk added.
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two
‘GREAT COMPETITOR’: Former French Open champion Garbine Muguruza was tested by American teenager Coco Gauff, before the Spaniard advanced in three sets Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Thursday cruised into the quarter-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia by handing their Japanese opponents a rare “double bagel,” a feat matched by US Open losing finalist Victoria Azarenka in the women’s singles. Top seeds Hsieh and Strycova took just 49 minutes to see off the challenge of Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya 6-0, 6-0 on the clay courts at the Foro Italico in Rome. The Taiwanese-Czech duo saved both break points they faced and converted six of 14, winning 62 percent of their first