A defiant Jurgen Klopp has vowed Liverpool will return stronger next season and has told fans to book the hotels for next year’s Champions League final in Istanbul.
Liverpool were denied a seventh European title as Real Madrid once again became kings of the continent thanks to Vinicius Junior’s strike in a Champions League goal marred by chaos outside the Stade de France.
The kick-off had to be delayed by 37 minutes due to significant security problems outside the stadium in Paris, where Liverpool were eventually defeated 1-0.
Klopp’s Reds were unable to find an answer to the second-half strike as Carlo Ancelotti, who was in a record fifth Champions League final just a year after leaving Everton, oversaw the Spanish giants’ 14th European Cup triumph.
It was a heartbreaking end to a memorable season for Liverpool, who won the Carabao Cup and FA Cup before being guided by a point by Manchester City to the Premier League title and losing in the French capital.
However, Klopp has full confidence in his team to be back next season as well.
“It’s not bad to reach the final – it’s a kind of achievement, although not the success you want,” he said BT sport.
“I have a strong feeling that we will come back. The lads are really competitive and an excellent group – they will be again next season. And we are going again. Where is it next season? Istanbul? Book the hotel!”
“The atmosphere in the dressing room at the moment feels like it’s not a great season – we need a few minutes or hours for that,” he added.
“We played a good game, not a perfect one. A perfect game would not have been possible with the opponent’s formation with the deep formation, counterattacks and long balls – that was tricky. Like the unacknowledged goal in the first half was a long ball that we couldn’t defend at all. We had a lot of shots but not the clearest – only three forced (Thibaut) Courtois to make top saves.
“We conceded a goal from a throw-in. (Federico) Valverde wanted to shoot, Vinicius was there and that was it.
“The lads tried everything, especially when they were down 1-0, then we played the way we wanted to play before. We had our midfielders too deep. They are dangerous on counterattacks. We wanted to be braver in the second half. We said that at half-time. We played around them. We should have played more in the formation than around it.”
Klopp’s team will return home on Sunday and head out for a parade across the city.
The club and council decided to continue the parade after the Reds won the Carabao and FA Cups that season.
“And tomorrow we will celebrate the season,” said Klopp.
“It’s a good thing we don’t have to do this right now. But after a night’s sleep and maybe another chat or speech from me, the boys will realize how special it was what they did. Even if no one on this planet would understand that we have a parade tomorrow we will still do it and I really hope that everyone who has the chance to come to Liverpool tomorrow and join us in celebrating a fantastic season that we all had together. It didn’t end the way we wanted but yeah, that’s a fact.
“But as I said, the club is in a good moment, we will go again.”
Analysis: Liverpool’s cycle is far from over
Sky Sports’ Nick Wright at the Stade de France:
Jurgen Klopp spoke candidly in his post-match press conference, revealing his attempts to lift his players’ spirits had failed – “the lads take a little longer to do that,” he said – and admitted Liverpool’s performance had lagged behind their usual was norms.
But his confidence that they will come back stronger is well founded.
Liverpool’s starting line-up at the Stade de France consisted of six players who were either in their 30s or nearing their 30s, but the process of renewal is well underway. It can be seen in the signings of Luis Diaz, Ibrahima Konate and Diogo Jota and there is more to come.
Klopp’s confidence in their future was evident in his decision to sign a two-year contract extension last month and although the season ended in disappointment there is no sense of the end of a cycle as there was for Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino in 2019 Klopp’s side beaten in Madrid.
That’s not to say it will be easy to recover from the heartache of the past week, which has seen Premier League and Champions League glory fade away.
“The two competitions we didn’t win, we didn’t win by the smallest margin possible – one point, one-nil,” added Klopp. “City were a point better during the season and tonight Madrid were a goal better.”
Fine margins exacerbate feelings of deflation, but Liverpool have shown impressive recovery power before, responding to their most recent Champions League final defeat by Madrid with a win the following year and then the Premier League title on 99 points won after missing out on 97 a year later.
Why shouldn’t they do it again? The 63rd game of a marathon season ended up being a step too far for this group, but their character cannot be questioned, nor can the reasons behind Klopp’s confidence in the future. Liverpool will be back.
Robertson: Real know how to win finals
AndyRobertson gave a glimpse into the Liverpool dressing room after the Paris defeat and says Real Madrid’s experience in the Champions League final shone through in the end.
He said BT sport: “Apparently [the dressing room] is calm, devastated – that’s what happens when you get to the final and don’t win.
“We had chances, we ran into an incredible goalkeeper tonight, he made some incredible saves.
“But if we’re also honest, I think we could have played a little bit better, especially in the second half. I thought we played well in the first half, we were in control, we were the ones who were kind of pushing. Second half, we didn’t start great, they started to take control of the game a bit more.
“When you face an experienced team, they know how to win finals. When they were ahead, they showed that.”
Ancelotti: I’m the record man
Real Madrid boss Ancelotti described himself as a “record man” and celebrated his side’s victory by becoming the first manager to win the Champions League for a fourth time.
“I can’t believe it. We’ve had a fantastic season,” he said.
“We suffered a lot in the first half but in the end we deservedly won this competition.
“I’m the record man. I was lucky to come here last year and, as always, found a fantastic club with a really good squad with a lot of quality and mental character.
“The season was great.”