IT’S the biggest party in world football on Saturday night. The venue? Paris. The theme? Revenge.
Before Real Madrid’s Champions League semi-final second leg clash last month, Mohamed Salah prayed they’d beat Manchester City.
The Liverpool star got his wish – and now he’s out for blood.
Four years ago, almost to the day, Salah was brutally dragged to the floor by Sergio Ramos just half an hour into the 2018 Champions League final.
The Egyptian whiz suffered a dislocated shoulder and had to be replaced.
Real Madrid went on to win 3-1 on a night best-remembered for Loris Karius’ pair of howlers.
That night, Los Blancos raised their 13th European Cup to the sky – and you can imagine the scowl that crept onto Salah’s face silently plotting his revenge.
And he wasted now time in stating his intention after Real booked their spot in the final at the Stade de France.
Following the LaLiga champions’ thrilling 6-5 aggregate win, Salah tweeted: “We have a score to settle.”
You’d think Real Madrid would be quaking in their boots.
You can’t rile up one of the most lethal forwards on the planet and not expect him to come out all-guns blazing.
But Salah isn’t the only one out for revenge, with Madrid chief Carlo Ancelotti seeking vengeance on the Reds.
Ancelotti – boss of Liverpool’s closest rivals Everton between 2019 and 2021 – has faced the Merseyside giants THREE times in European Cup finals in his career.
As a player, the Italian watched on from the stands Bruce Grobbelaar’s wobbly legs helped Liverpool to a penalty shootout victory over Roma in 1984.
Next, and arguably most-famously, Ancelotti the manager saw his AC Milan side storm to a 3-0 lead at half-time of the 2005 final in Istanbul.
What happened next defied even the word “miracle” that is forever attached to the match.
Liverpool scored three quickfire goals in the second half to force extra-time and penalties – with Jerzy Dudek the hero for the Reds.
Two years later, Ancelotti did gain some semblance of revenge as Milan won the 2007 final in a nervy encounter in Athens.
“FOOTBALL ALWAYS OFFERS CHANCE FOR REVENGE”
But the 1984 and 2005 defeats still evidently sting, with Ancelotti saying: “In my career in the Champions League, we have faced each other many times.
“The first time was in 1984, the final in Rome. I didn’t play because I was injured.
“Then, in 2005 and 2007, and of course, the rivalry was accentuated during the period I worked at Everton. Now, we’ll face each other again.
“[My team for the 2005 final] was the best I’ve ever coached.
“Unfortunately, in football there is that unpredictability which you can’t control. It’s difficult to explain.
“Football always offers a chance for revenge…”
Ancelotti concluded: “Will Liverpool be out for revenge for the 2018 final loss to Madrid?
“Real Madrid are also looking for revenge because they lost a final against Liverpool in [the 1981 final in] Paris.”
Los Blancos right-back Dani Carvajal further stoked the fire ahead of the clash by trying to get into Salah’s head.
Carvajal – who played in the 2018 final win, inspired by Gareth Bale’s two goals – said: “Let’s hope it’s not an important burden for Salah to lose a second Champions League final against Real Madrid…”
Both sides boast similar XIs to the one on show in Kyiv four years ago – and the memories clearly live on.
Liverpool are out to bag a cup Treble after their two domestic tournament victories – and will be itching to put their Premier League final-day heartbreak behind them.
But Real Madrid will want to make it a LaLiga-Champions League Double to go with their Supercopa de Espana gong.
Let’s not forget, Los Blancos famously adore the European Cup and are comfortably the most-successful team in the tournament’s history.
On their day, Liverpool are arguably the best team on the planet though.
If anything, the 2018 final defeat was a blessing in disguise, as it forced Jurgen Klopp to finally invest in a world-class goalkeeper in Alisson.
Karius, meanwhile, has endured a string of horror loan spells and is now Liverpool’s FIFTH-CHOICE goalkeeper.
But it’s not just in goals, the Kop crew boasts a far superior squad compared to the 2018 final – when their bench featured the likes of Alberto Moreno, Ragnar Klavan and Dominic Solanke.
The Reds will fancy their chances on Saturday night.
And with Salah itching to get even, we can be almost certain of fireworks in Paris.