Mohamed Salah’s words after Liverpool confirmed a place in the 2022 Champions League final proved to be prophetic.
Speaking to BT Sport after Liverpool’s 3-2 comeback win over Villarreal, the Egyptian star made it clear who he’d rather face in the Champions League final. It’s a question most players expertly tiptoe around, but Salah didn’t mince any words.
And he got his wish, in stunning fashion, as Real Madrid generated a comeback for the ages in the dying seconds of their semifinal second leg against Man City at the Bernabeu.
“I want to play Madrid, I have to be honest,” Salah said after Liverpool’s semifinal second-leg victory over Villarreal that clinched a third Champions League final in five years for the English side. “City is a really tough team, we’ve played against them a few times this season, but if you asked me personally, I’d like to play Madrid.”
Peter Crouch, who towered over Salah throughout the interview, asked if it was because he wanted revenge against Madrid after the 2018 final. Salah replied in the affirmative, and the group all had a laugh.
“It’s great to be in the final for the third time in five years.”
“I want to play Real Madrid, I have to be honest.”
“Hopefully we’ll win it from them as well.”
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) May 3, 2022
MORE: When and where is the 2022 Champions League final?
Why does Salah want Real Madrid in the Champions League final?
The “revenge” to which Crouch referred, and which Salah acknowledged, is two-fold.
Since Salah joined Liverpool, the club has been eliminated by Real Madrid from the Champions League twice.
First and foremost, which Salah mentions while the BT Sport crew is laughing, Real Madrid won the 2018 Champions League final, beating Liverpool 3-1 behind two Gareth Bale goals after the hour mark. Salah started that game but only played 30 minutes before coming off with a shoulder injury, after Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos hooked his arm and slammed Salah into the ground.
Speaking to FourFourTwo magazine recently, Salah called that finals loss “the worst feeling of my life.”
With a chance at revenge in the quarterfinals of last year’s Champions League, Liverpool fell again to Madrid. Another 3-1 scoreline did the trick in the first leg at the Bernabeu, as Vinicius Jr bagged a brace. Liverpool was unable to generate a second-leg home comeback, drawing 0-0.
After Real Madrid’s comeback against Man City in the 2022 semifinal was complete, Salah took to Instagram to confirm his feelings once more, posting “we have a score to settle.”
MORE: Luis Diaz inspires Liverpool win over Villarreal
When is the Champions League final?
Liverpool will face Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 28.
The match will be played at Stade de France in Saint-Denis, France. The game was originally slated to be played in Saint Petersburg, Russia, but was moved in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Real Madrid has won the last four matchups between the two clubs, with a pair of group stage wins in 2014 to go along with the aforementioned meetings. Liverpool does have some history to lean on, however, as the Reds won the 1981 European Cup final against Real Madrid behind a goal from Alan Kennedy.
THE 2021-22 UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FINAL IS SET. 🏆 pic.twitter.com/LKeqcJnSwX
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) May 4, 2022