'Of course' – Salah certain he will be fit for Champions League final

By Sports Desk May 14, 2022

Liverpool star Mohamed Salah is confident he will be fit to face Real Madrid in the Champions League final despite suffering an injury in the FA Cup final win over Chelsea.

Salah was forced off just over 30 minutes into Saturday's showdown at Wembley.

Even without their talisman, Liverpool went on to claim their second trophy of the season – the Reds triumphing 6-5 on penalties after a goalless draw over 120 minutes.

Liverpool have two Premier League games remaining, and sit three points behind leaders Manchester City, before they then face Madrid in Paris on May 28 and there was concern over Salah's participation after he was withdrawn.

But asked by reporters if he would be fit to feature against Los Blancos, a smiling Salah replied: "Of course."

Salah was not the only Liverpool player to suffer in north London. Andrew Robertson had to go off with apparent cramp, albeit his replacement Konstantinos Tsimikas scored the winning spot-kick, while Virgil van Dijk was replaced by Joel Matip at the end of normal time.

Van Dijk had an issue with his knee, but told ITV Sport that he is hopeful it was a minor injury.

"Hopefully well, we're going to check it out," he said. "I felt in the first half when I sprinted, I felt a twinge behind my knee, I played on.

"In the end, I can't risk it for the team and I need to trust Joel. Hopefully it will be fine."

In his post-match news conference, Jurgen Klopp said: "Obviously I spoke to both already after the game, both are really okay. All that we know is it's not a big thing, we really came through."

However, he is unsure if the pair will be fit to face Southampton on Tuesday.

"But the next game is on Tuesday and that's obviously pretty quick," he continued. 

"I think they both will be fine, but not… maybe… we have training tomorrow morning, then if they tell me 'I'm completely fine' I will be surprised but I will take it and then we have to go from there. So we will see."

With Salah and Van Dijk playing this season, Liverpool have won 31 times out of 43 games, suffering only three defeats.

The Reds have scored 101 goals across all competitions in matches the duo have featured in, while they have managed 41 in the 17 games that at least one of the two have missed.

However, Liverpool have not lost any of those games, winning 13 and drawing four.

Their average goals conceded per game does, though, rise slightly, from 0.7 with the pair playing, to 0.9 without.

Related items

  • Kohli returns to form as RCB keep playoff hopes alive with Titans win Kohli returns to form as RCB keep playoff hopes alive with Titans win

    Virat Kohli returned to form with a crucial 73 as Royal Challengers Bangalore kept their Indian Premier League playoffs hopes alive with an eight-wicket victory over Gujarat Titans.

    Titans opener Wriddhiman Saha scored a brisk 31 and David Miller added 34 in a 61-run partnership with captain Hardik Pandya, who finished unbeaten on 62 as Gujarat posted 168-5 at the Wankhede Stadium.

    That total was boosted by a late flurry from Rashid Khan, who smashed 19 off just six balls, but the target seemed below par as RCB's openers raced out of the blocks.

    Kohli and Faf du Plessis made a blistering start to the chase, the India star reaching his second half-century of the tournament off 33 deliveries with a six against Khan (2-32).

    Khan then removed Du Plessis, caught by Pandya, for 44 with the score on 115-1 in the 15th over, before beating Glenn Maxwell for pace and clipping the stumps without the bails coming off with the next ball.

    Maxwell capitalised on the reprieve by blasting the next Pandya over for 21 and, although Khan had Kohli stumped in the 17th over, the Australian's unbeaten 40 off just 18 balls saw RCB over the line with eight deliveries to spare.

    RCB's playoff hopes now rely on Delhi Capitals losing to Mumbai Indians on Saturday, while IPL debutants Gujarat are already assured top spot after winning 10 of 14 games.

    King Kohli

    Before this game, Kohli averaged just 21.45 in the IPL this term – his lowest in the tournament since 2008, when he averaged 15 – and had been dismissed for under 10 runs six times, including three golden ducks.

    The 33-year-old has acknowledged he may need a break to rejuvenate mentally and physically, but he was at his imperious best here, smashing eight fours and two sixes in his 54-ball 73.

    Hasaranga keeps it tight

    Wanindu Hasaranga, who claimed 1-25 from his four-over allocation, continues to dominate through the middle overs for RCB.

    The Sri Lanka international dismissed Miller with a wonderful caught and bowled to pick up his 24th wicket of the tournament – the joint-most with Rajasthan Royals' Yuzvendra Chahal.

  • Ramsey backed by Wales boss Page to quickly respond to Rangers penalty misery Ramsey backed by Wales boss Page to quickly respond to Rangers penalty misery

    Aaron Ramsey has the character to put his penalty miss in Rangers' Europa League final shoot-out defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt behind him, according to Wales boss Rob Page.

    The on-loan Juventus midfielder, brought on in the second half of extra time, missed the only spot-kick as Frankfurt prevailed 5-4 in a game that finished level at 1-1 in Seville on Wednesday.

    It marked the first time Rangers had tasted defeat on penalties in European competition since the 1999-2000 UEFA Cup when losing to Borussia Dortmund in the last 32.

    Ramsey was visibly upset after Rafael Borre converted the decisive penalty for Frankfurt, who are the first German team to win the UEFA Cup or Europa League since Schalke in 1996-97.

    But Page insists he has no worries about selecting the 31-year-old to take a penalty should Wales' upcoming World Cup qualifying play-off against either Scotland or Ukraine go the distance.

    "I have no doubt whatsoever that if it comes to penalties that he will take one," Page said at a news conference on Thursday after naming his 27-man squad for that June 5 showdown in Cardiff.

    Asked if he still has faith in Ramsey, Page said: "Absolutely, 100 per cent. It happens to the best in the world. Top players, they put themselves up.

    "I am so proud of him for putting himself up [to take a penalty]. He is a world-class footballer. He had the courage and conviction to take a penalty. Top players recover from that, no problem."

    Ramsey is part of Wales' latest squad, as is Gareth Bale, who will become a free agent when his Real Madrid contract expires in the coming weeks.

    Bale's agent this week suggested a return to English football is the most likely option, with the forward aiming to keep fit ahead of November's World Cup should Wales qualify for the tournament for the first time in 64 years.

    "I think everybody is probably thinking the same thing about his future," Page said. "It will depend on how results go with regards to what he does next season with a club.

    "The only person who can answer that is Gareth. All I know is whenever he turns up for us he is first class. The full focus on himself is winning this game against Ukraine or Scotland, so he can worry about that after."

    Bale has started just four games for Madrid in all competitions this season and has not been part of their matchday squad for any of their past five games because of a back problem.

    The Wales skipper is back in training, however, and Page expects him to be part of Los Blancos' squad for next week's Champions League final against Liverpool in Paris.

    "I think Gareth puts himself when he is fit to be available for Real Madrid like he does with us," Page said. "It is down to the manager then whether he wants to select him or not in the squad. 

    "I think he is confident he will be involved and we will wait and see whether he is involved. We will then get him in camp as soon as we can."

  • Kohli considering break to 'rejuvenate mentally and physically' amid slump in form Kohli considering break to 'rejuvenate mentally and physically' amid slump in form

    India star Virat Kohli might take a break to "rejuvenate mentally and physically", but assures he is in "the happiest phase of my life".

    Kohli stepped down as India's Test captain in January following a series defeat to South Africa, having already relinquished his role as skipper of his country's white-ball teams.

    The 33-year-old has struggled for form in 2022, averaging 21.45 in the ongoing Indian Premier League before Thursday's clash with Gujarat Titans – his lowest figure in the tournament since 2008.

    Kohli, who also gave up the captaincy at Royal Challengers Bangalore last year, has not scored a century in any format since November 2019 when he managed 136 in Kolkata against Bangladesh.

    While he averages 49.95 in the longest format, Kohli acknowledged it may be time for a rest.

    "It's not a lot of people who mentioned it [taking a break]," Kohli told Star Sports. "There is one person precisely who has mentioned it which is Ravi [Shastri] and that's because he has seen from close quarters over the last six, seven years the reality of the situation that I have been in.

    "The amount of cricket that I have played and the ups and downs and the toll that it takes on you to play three formats of the game plus the IPL for 10, 11 years non-stop with the seven years of captaincy in between.

    "It is definitely a thing that one needs to consider because you don't want to do something which you are not a part of 100 per cent and I have always believed in that in my life.

    "So to take a break and when to take a break is obviously something that I need to take a call on, but it is only a healthy decision for anyone to take some time off and just rejuvenate yourself mentally and physically.

    "Not so much physically because physical fitness you keep up with through the course of playing cricket all the time, but it is a mental kind of reset that you need, and you want to be excited for what you are doing. You don't want to feel like you have been forcing yourself into any situation.

    "It's only a thing of creating a balance and finding that balance which is right for you as an individual moving forward and I'll definitely discuss this with all the people involved – [India coach] Rahul [Dravid], the Indian team management, everyone to chart out whatever is best for myself and for the team definitely."

     

    Kohli would not be the first high-profile international player to take a break from cricket to prioritise their mental and physical health, given new England Test captain Ben Stokes did so last year.

    However, Kohli insists he is still enjoying his game as he looks to secure a playoff spot in the IPL with Bangalore.

    "Right now, there is nothing that you can point out saying there is a problem here," Kohli said.

    "I know where my game stands and you cannot come this far in your international career without having the ability to counter the situations and counter conditions and counter different kinds of bowling.

    "So this phase for me is the easier phase to process but I don't want to put this behind me. I want to learn from it and understand that what are the core values that I have as a sports person and as a human being.

    "As long as I'm ticking those boxes, I know these are ups and downs and when I come out of this phase I know how consistent I can be. I know how motivated I will be once the scores start coming.

    "My experiences are sacred to me – whatever I have experienced in this phase or in the past as well. 

    "So I am experiencing now that I value myself and I care for my own well-being way more than I would have in the past. And actually, contrary to a lot of belief or a lot of perceptions as I mentioned on the outside, I'm actually in the happiest phase of my life."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.