Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp is rarely shy about his thoughts pertaining to Life, the Universe, and Football. So, following the Champions League final, one which was decided by two decisive injuries, both inflicted by Real Madrid’s Sergio Ramos, it was curious that Kloppo kept his feelings to himself.
Perhaps he needed time to fully gather his thoughts. Maybe he didn’t want to appear as a sore loser. Maybe he just needed to wait for the right time. Regardless, he finally let his feeling be known about the incidents in the final. He is less than pleased.
“I watched that back of course. Someone showed it to me immediately after the game,” Klopp explained in an interview with The Echo.
“If you watch it back and you are not with Real Madrid then you think it is ruthless and brutal. You don’t think ‘wow, good challenge’.
“I think in a situation like that somebody needs to judge it better. If VAR is coming then it is a situation where you have to look again and say ‘what is that?’ It was ruthless.
“I don’t think Mo would have always got injured in that situation, this time it was unlucky, but it is an experience that we cannot have.
“I’m not sure if it is an experience we will have again - go there and put an elbow to the goalkeeper, put their goalscorer down like a wrestler in midfield and then you win the game. That was the story of the game.”
The story of the game, indeed. Losing football matches, especially big ones, can happen. This is normal. It hurts, of course, but the particular way that this unfolded continues to leave particularly bitter taste in Liverpool supporters’ mouths.
To put it mildly, Klopp does not believe Ramos deserves the benefit of the doubt, nor is he impressed with his post-match comments.
“Ramos said a lot of things that I didn’t like. As a person I didn’t like the reactions of him. He was like ‘whatever, what do they want? It’s normal’. No, it is not normal.
“If you put all of the situations of Ramos together, and I have watched football since I was five years old, then you will see a lot of situations with Ramos.”
To be fair to the boss, his teams—while aggressive—rarely cross the line into dangerous. He has fostered a culture of legal on-pitch challenges, something that has been reflected in the number of cautions the Reds have received over the past couple of seasons.
“We were two times in a row the winner of the Fair Play table. Not that it was our goal before the start of the season, we didn’t say ‘let’s be beautiful and win that’.
“We are aggressive but I always use the word legal as well. Usually out there if you try something you will get punished. Someone will see it and ban you for four or five weeks. But in this example, no-one.”
Indeed. The lack of any consequences, either during the game or after for the Real Madrid star raises some serious questions. In a matter of about 25 minutes Ramos’s challenge ended Mohamed Salah’s game (and severely limited his World Cup appearances), and ended Loris Karius’s Liverpool career.
As Klopp points out, there is clear intent in Ramos’s actions, a long and storied history of these sorts of incidents, and a galling lack of remorse. And yet no action by either FIFA or UEFA.
I’m sure his comments will ruffle a few feathers of Real Madrid supporters. But it needed to be said. Violent acts, committed with the intention of injuring other professionals, needs to be removed from the game, either with help of VAR in game (preferable), or with lengthy post-match bans after. That Ramos will get to lead Real out onto the pitch in their first Champions League Group Stage match is downright shameful.