Premier League • England

Arsene Wenger explains why Mo Salah, Sadio Mane failed to hurt Real Madrid; heaps praise on Courtois

Liverpool stars Mo Salah and Sadio Mane

Arsene Wenger has attempted to explain what went wrong for Mo Salah and Sadio Mane in the Champions League final on Saturday night.

The deadly goalscorers both started for Liverpool against Real Madrid but couldn’t get on the scoresheet. Vinicius Junior bagged the only goal as Los Blancos won the coveted trophy for the 14th time in their history.

Salah and Mane were kept relatively quiet for large parts of the match, while Dani Carvajal did a brilliant job to stop Luis Diaz from starring.

Salah got more involved as the second half went on and had a great chance on his right foot after racing into the penalty area. But whenever he did get past his marker, Thibaut Courtois was there to save.

It wasn’t to be for Salah, Mane and Liverpool and they lost to Real in the UCL final for the second time in five seasons – our player ratings are available here.

It is a hugely disappointing end to the campaign for Jurgen Klopp and his team, who were chasing the quadruple for many months.

Of course, they lost out on the Premier League title too as Manchester City came back from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa on the final day, making the trophy theirs.

And Wenger thinks the gut-wrenching events on the Prem’s final day could have had an impact on Salah and Mane heading into the UCL final.

Arsene Wenger delivers UCL final verdict

“I wonder after watching that game if the disappointment of last week, being beaten [to the title] in the last game of the season had somewhere dropped a level of confidence,” Wenger told beIN Sports (via the Daily Mirror).

“You felt as well that Salah, Mane, the guys who make the difference, didn’t have the same freshness, the same belief that they can make the difference.”

The legendary former Arsenal boss also praised Courtois for his heroics on the night.

“Overall they came short, we must be honest, because of Courtois. I felt at some stage that if Liverpool came back to 1-1 they’d come back and win the game.

“But they never found that special moment where they could finish their chances off, and a lot of that is down to Courtois.”

Klopp is adamant Liverpool will bounce back during 2022-23 and will be hoping to win some major trophies as a result.

But it is another hard defeat for the Reds to take, especially after featuring in every possible match this season.

Plus, the loss won’t do anything to help Liverpool tie down Salah and Mane to new contracts. Currently, their terms expire in 2023.

Meanwhile, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen have argued about who is now the best team in Europe.