Where the 2022 Champions League final was won and lost
Saturday, May 28, 2022
UEFA.com's team reporters join the Real Madrid and Liverpool coaches and players in dissecting how things turned out at the Stade de France.
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UEFA.com team reporters Joe Walker and Matthew Howarth put their heads together to examine where the final was won and lost, and we look at the players' and coaches' points of view.
Where our reporters thought the Champions League final was decided
Madrid made their chance count
As Manchester City learned the hard way in the semi-final, you need to take your opportunities to stand any chance of overcoming this Real Madrid side. Liverpool went close on a number of occasions in Paris but were denied time and again by Thibaut Courtois, who saved magnificently from Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah in particular. Madrid, by contrast, converted the one clear-cut opening that fell their way.
Cool heads under pressure
This was Liverpool's third final in five seasons, but ultimately Madrid had more composure at key moments in the game. Jürgen Klopp's team appeared to lose some of their shape and discipline after Vinícius Júnior's goal, while Madrid looked every bit a side that has never lost a Champions League final – calm and resilient under pressure while still carrying a threat on the break. The Reds still could have equalised through Salah late on, but Courtois' heroics saved his side once more.
Matthew Howarth, Liverpool reporter
Strong, silent types impress
It was a night for Madrid's unsung heroes, who all won their individual battles. While Vinícius Júnior got the winning goal, you have to salute the likes of Federico Valverde – who was given the task of sometimes playing as a second right-back, at other times as part of a front three. His tireless running, drive and desire are what led to the decisive goal – yet he never shirked any of his defensive responsibilities and was probably the main reason that Andy Robertson made little impact.
Likewise Dani Carvajal: the 30-year-old full-back marked the tricky Luis Díaz out of the game with an assured, stoic display. Casemiro was every bit as solid, mopping up everything the Liverpool midfield tried, and was everywhere in the latter stages as the Reds huffed and puffed but failed to blow the house down.
Courtois' saving grace
... and that brings us to one of the best ever individual displays in a Champions League final from Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian produced three world-class saves that – frankly – he had no right to make at all. Mané and Salah in particular will go to bed thinking what might have been, had it not been for the Real Madrid No1.
Joseph Walker, Real Madrid reporter
Where the coaches and players thought the Champions League final was decided
Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool manager: "The problem is when you play against Real Madrid and they play that deep, their counterattacking threat is immense. I saw us doing a lot of good things, but it was not enough. We accept that. They scored a goal and we didn't – that's the easiest explanation in the world of football. It's harsh, but we respect that of course. When the goalkeeper is man of the match, something is going wrong. Courtois made three incredible saves, but I would have loved to have more chances of this calibre. In the final third some of the crosses we made towards Courtois didn't make much sense."
Carlo Ancelotti, Real Madrid coach: "We've achieved something that nobody expected of us at the start of the season, and we've done that thanks to our quality, our commitment, our history: everything. I was very confident [going into the game] because I know the attitude of these players, especially in matches like this. The confidence that we had going into the match helped us to win it. I don't think it was so bad [at the start of the match]. We didn't want them to play the ball forward so much, so we lowered the block a bit, and they didn't get a chance in behind. That was the plan that we'd prepared.
"This was the most difficult Champions League title I've ever won. The side were pushed on to fight by the fact nobody believed we could win it. We created a good atmosphere and we've deserved to win this competition. We've suffered, but we have never given up. The key was to not give their front three any space in behind. We won, deservedly, against a great side who haven't lost many games this season."
Andy Robertson, Liverpool defender: "If we're being honest we could have played a bit better, especially in the second half. We didn't start great, they got a hold of the game more. They're an experienced team and once they got in front, they know how to win finals and they showed that."
Thibaut Courtois, Real Madrid goalkeeper: "The most important save was the Mané one, I think. It was difficult, I really used every centimetre of the two metres I have, and then turned fast to get the rebound. I really felt that today after the first save nobody was going to score against me, and I was so determined to win a Champions League with Real Madrid and that’s what happened."