Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has admitted that the Champions League final atmosphere last season was ‘strange.’
Speaking to Joe Cole for BT Sport yesterday, Henderson opened up on Liverpool’s defeat to Real Madrid in Paris.
“Right from the beginning the game got delayed, all the issues with the fans, I just felt the whole atmosphere was strange for a Champions League final,” said the 32-year-old. “I’ve been involved in two before and it was electric, whereas this one it wasn’t like that, so it was strange form the beginning.
“In the game we probably didn’t perform to the levels we’re capable of for sure, but certainly did enough to win the game for me, creating the chances that we created, didn’t give them too much away to be honest.
“It was a strange game, Courtois made five, six world class saves, so on another day you probably score three or four goals and come away with a win. But we weren’t 100 per cent at it and if you’re not 100 per cent at it, you leave yourself open to lose.”
Looking back on Paris
During the build-up to May’s Champions League final, it was clear that something was badly wrong in the stands.
With fans of both clubs experiencing problems outside the ground, the game was, for some people, the last thing on their minds.
Even as the match kicked off later than billed, there were still empty seats around the Stade de France. Given the things they’d experienced whilst queuing to get in, many fans were just happy to make it to their seats unharmed.
In those circumstances, it was never going to be a ‘normal’ Champions League final atmosphere. For Liverpool, who were playing their 63rd game of the season, they perhaps needed that push from the crowd more than Madrid. As a result, the whole game felt rather flat.
As Liverpool’s £20m man Henderson points out, the players could feel that out on the pitch. In that environment, it was always likely to be the then 13-time champions who came out on top.
Still, Liverpool were comfortably the better side for large periods. As Henderson points out, without Courtois, the Reds could have been ahead on several occasions. But they just couldn’t ever properly find their rhythm.
Instead, they were left to rue what might have been. The subsequent parade through the city undoubtedly helped them to put things into perspective though.
Only one thing for it then – we’ll have to win it this year instead.