How do Liverpool bounce back from Champions League final defeat? The history of the heartache of finishing second
By Ron Walker
Last Updated: 31/05/18 11:16pm
Liverpool's players will be hurting even more with the manner of their Champions League defeat to Real Madrid. Sky Sports looks at how to bounce back from losing the biggest game in club football...
The dust is just settling on a dramatic Champions League final six days on, but it will live long in the memory of Liverpool's hurting players.
Liverpool's 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid, who lifted the European Cup for the third year in a row, could not have come in much more agonising circumstances. Having lost their talisman Mohamed Salah to injury before half-time through no fault of their own, the Reds then conceded two goals any side would wince at.
A week off ahead of World Cup preparations will have proven a hollow one for Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, with one player in particular, error-laden Loris Karius, likely finding it a more bitter pill than most to swallow.
So after they return in mid-July, how will Jurgen Klopp manage to revitalise, reinvigorate and inspire his players to go again for a shot at world football's biggest club prize?
World Cup hangover
While this summer's tournament will be a great opportunity for most of Liverpool's players to get the defeat to Real out of their heads, a long domestic season followed by another month, at least, of international football will give Liverpool's players little chance to recover ahead of the new campaign.
Over the last 10 years, three Champions League runners-up have ended the first 10 games of the following season with fewer points than they had after 10 games the previous year.
Two of those came in World Cup years, with Atletico Madrid picking up four fewer in 2014, while Bayern Munich picked up three fewer in 2010.
CL runners-up first 10 games performance
|Year||Team||Points (season before)||Points (season after)|
By the time Liverpool's squad report back for first-team training, at different stages of the summer dependent on their nation's progress in Russia, they will have had at least three intense games on the world's biggest stage to deal with.
But the physical strains of the 13 games of their Champions League run last year will have taken their toll without a break to recharge their batteries before the World Cup, and Klopp will have to be mindful of their recovery when their Premier League season gets back underway in mid-August.
Feelings of injustice
Liverpool were not outplayed by Real Madrid, but when it mattered the team that knows how to win in Europe did exactly that.
The fact that Liverpool were masters of their own downfall will change things, however, according to former assistant manager Pako Ayestaran, who was in the dugout when the Reds last reached a Champions League final - in 2007 - also ending up on the wrong side of history that night.
He told Sky Sports: "If you have doubts about if you have done enough to reach the last step and lift the trophy after a season of work, it makes things worse because you will dwell on what you could have done differently.
"But if you have given everything you are capable of, and the opposition were simply better than you, then you think about it, and realise you have time to continue working to get there again, but be more prepared next time.
"The worst experience is if you don't perform on the day. That's something that takes longer to get over with the coming weeks."
Liverpool will certainly be left with a bitter aftertaste of what might have been, having been undone by a moment of individual brilliance from Gareth Bale for Real's second goal - but also by two goalkeeping howlers from Karius, first for Karim Benzema to open the scoring, and then Bale to seal victory late on.
Strengthening for another run
This is something Liverpool will have to worry too much about: making sure they do not get left behind. Already, Fabinho and Naby Keita have been drafted in to strengthen their midfield for next season, even with the expected loss of Emre Can, and you can expect a goalkeeper to follow with Karius' Anfield future unlikely at best.
Any feeling Liverpool's shot of winning Europe's biggest prize has come and gone will lie in the future of Salah, but there is no indication the 44-goal forward will be anywhere other than Anfield next season.
With Nabil Fekir understood to be on their radar too, and the ever-improving Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to return from injury, there are promising signs on the horizon that lightning may strike twice.