Mohamed Salah would rather face Real Madrid than Manchester City in the final of the Champions League in Paris as they target the quadruple after seeing off a spirited Villarreal performance in the last four.
Liverpool survived a huge scare in Spain to reach their 10th European Cup/Champions League final, with Fabinho, Luis Diaz, and Sadio Mane scoring second-half goals after Villarreal wiped out the Reds’ first-leg lead in an unbelievable first half.
Liverpool have become the first team to reach the finals of the European Cup/Champions League, the FA Cup, and the League Cup in a single season, and trail City by just one point in an absorbing Premier League title race.
The Reds’ incredible form has led to talk of Jurgen Klopp’s team lifting four major trophies at the end of the campaign, with Salah hoping to complete the quadruple against Madrid having been substituted after suffering an injury in Liverpool’s 2018 final loss to Los Blancos.
“Yeah, [it’s a target] for sure,” he told BT Sport. “Maybe not in the beginning of the season if I’m honest, because I always focus on the Champions League and the Premier League, but now we are close for everything, so why not?
“I think after we beat City in the semi-final of the [FA] cup [Liverpool believed it was possible], but in the Champions League, from the beginning we were playing unbelievable games, we had a really tough group and we beat everybody, so I said from that time we could win the Champions League this year.
“I want to play Madrid, I have to be honest. City is a really tough team, we played against them a few times this season, but I think if you ask me personally, I would prefer Madrid.
“Because we lost in the final against them, I want to play against them, and hopefully win against them as well.”
10 – Liverpool have become just the fourth team to reach as many as 10 European Cup/Champions League finals, after Real Madrid (16), AC Milan (11) and Bayern Munich (11). Elite. #VILLIV pic.twitter.com/C53NsZPqSV
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 3, 2022
Salah assisted Fabinho’s vital 62nd-minute goal in Spain, taking his tally to an incredible 45 goal contributions in all competitions this season (30 goals, 15 assists), and the Egypt international revealed he had set himself a target of 40 goals before the campaign began.
“I just give the team everything, we have to focus for the team because we fight for everything, we won one trophy already, we are in the final, we continue to fight for the Premier League and we are in a final against Chelsea [in the FA Cup],” he added.
“I just focus, and try to train hard. I know what I want at the end of the season, so hopefully I can get what I want.
“Before the season starts, I know what I want from the season, individually and collectively. The collective is the most important, [but] I’m nearly there, I have a big expectation for myself.
“Honestly, I never said this before but before the season started, I was like ‘okay, I’ll go for 40 goals this season, and 10 or 15 assists’. I need to focus on the goals now!”
Moments for life.. pic.twitter.com/eUhGP4FnVK
— Virgil van Dijk (@VirgilvDijk) May 3, 2022
Reds defender Virgil van Dijk, meanwhile, hailed winger Diaz for his impact after the January arrival changed the game as a half-time substitute, but refused to join Salah in stating a preferred final opponent.
“The way he goes one versus one, it doesn’t really matter who he is facing, he just goes at you without any fear,” Van Dijk said of Diaz. “And if he loses it, he wins it back and goes again. That is very difficult to defend.
“Any team that we face in the final of this competition will be a nightmare to play against. We know City but they know us too. We know how intense those games are. Real Madrid is Real Madrid. Such a big club and an in-form striker [Karim Benzema].”
Liverpool’s Champions League final opponents will be revealed when Pep Guardiola’s City travel to the Spanish capital on Wednesday, attempting to defend a 4-3 first-leg lead to set up an all-English final.
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