Wow. Just wow. Even for a Champions League final, where do we begin?
Fitness concerns in the warm-up, shoddy organization from UEFA that deprived fans of the chance to enter the Stade de France, the actual game itself – you name it, the dysfunctional scenes on Saturday night had it.
Here’s how events in Paris played out.
Worry over Thiago
There had been worry over the fitness of Liverpool midfielders Thiago and Fabinho, but each Reds fan breathed a massive sigh of relief when the pair were both included in Jurgen Klopp’s starting XI.
However, things took a sharp turn as viewers noticed Thiago ducking out of Liverpool’s warm-up with the rest of their starters. Instead, he went over to kick a ball around with the substitutes while Naby Keita stepped in.
Thiago and Keita were then seen conversing and hugging, causing major anxiety among the Reds supporters.
Would he start? Would Keita get the nod? We got contrasting information…
So, how did we all react?
Scenes outside the Stade de France
The Thiago drama was just the start, however.
UEFA has had issues with controlling events and crowds over the past few years and they were at their worst on Saturday night as patient fans waited outside the Stade de France with tickets to take their seats.
Except the organizers did not follow the script that, you know, every single football club in the world follows when getting fans into grounds. Instead, supporters were left stranded outside as ticket stations shut down.
Tear gas and pepper spray were even used by police against supporters due to the chaotic and disgraceful scenes outside which could easily have been avoided with thorough planning.
The game’s kick off was pushed back to 20:15 BST, then 20:30, before we finally got underway at 20:36. UEFA decided to blame the delay on “the late arrival of fans at the stadium”, but absolutely no one was buying that reason.
If there’s one to take away from the scenes on Saturday night prior to the game, it certainly wasn’t delayed because of “the late arrival of fans at the stadium”.
The actual 2021/22 Champions League final
When 20:36 finally rolled around, we had a game of football to watch. As you could probably have predicted due to the fiery pre-match events, it was a quiet opening 15 minutes until a Mohamed Salah effort was tipped away from danger by Thibaut Courtois.
The Belgian goalkeeper was needed again as Liverpool upped the tempo. Sadio Mane wriggled free to crack a shot on goal, and Courtois leapt at full strength to tip the ball onto the post.
Real hardly laid a glove on the Reds, but they finally caused them some grief – and a massive VAR check – when Karim Benzema curled in, albeit from an offside possession.
The ball bounced off a combination of Fabinho, Federico Valverde and Ibrahima Konate simultaneously. The flag was initially raised by the assistant referee and that decision was upheld as the goal remained disallowed.
So… goal or no goal? Public opinion seemed pretty conclusive.
And also some hate for Peter Walton, obviously.
Vinicius grabs the opener
Liverpool started the second half on the front foot again, forcing blocks and last-ditch defending from Real, but it was Los Blancos who struck against the run of play for the opening goal.
Valverde charged towards goal and fired the ball across the box for the waiting Vinicius Junior, who had the simple task of tapping in at the back stick.
The gauntlet had been well and truly thrown down by Carlo Ancelotti and his side.
The Thibaut Courtois show
At Chelsea, Courtois wasn’t the most convincing goalkeeper around.
But at Real Madrid, he might be the most improved shot-stopper in the world.
The Belgian made a string of excellent saves, denying the likes of Mane, Salah and Diogo Jota to both keep Real in the game and then preserve their lead late on.
Full time: Liverpool 0-1 Real Madrid
Liverpool huffed and puffed in search of an equalizer, but no such goal came despite the efforts of their illustrious and instead it was Real Madrid who claimed their 14th triumph in the competition.
Having beaten Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool in the knockout stages, few could grudge Ancelotti and his side in their moment in the spotlight.
Source : 90 min