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Mohamed Salah declared himself on course to be fit for Liverpool’s Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 28, after the Premier League’s leading goalscorer was substituted in the first half of his team’s FA Cup final triumph.
Jurgen Klopp’s team claimed the FA Cup, their second domestic trophy of the season, with another penalty shoot-out victory over Chelsea at Wembley after a 0-0 draw over 90 minutes and extra-time. The substitute Kostas Tsimikas scored the decisive penalty, the 14th of the shootout, after Cesar Azpilicueta and then Mason Mount had missed for Chelsea, as well as Sadio Mane for Liverpool.
Asked later whether he would be fit for the game in Paris in two weeks’ time, Salah responded, “Of course”. Virgil Van Dijk also came off on 90 minutes although Klopp said that both were not carrying serious injuries and any impact would be assessed when the team train on Sunday. “I would be surprised if they were involved [in training],” Klopp said.
Klopp said that it had been “not clear” as to the extent of the problem with Salah. “He felt something … a football game is not a perfect physiotherapist,” Klopp said. “It rarely gets better. He said he feels something but it’s fine.” Klopp conceded that he would have to make changes for the penultimate league game of the season against Southampton on Tuesday. “I spoke to both,” he said. “it’s not a big thing … I think both will be fine.”
Klopp also hinted that if Manchester City beat West Ham on Sunday the title race will be all but decided with City having a six-point lead with two games for Liverpool to play. City also have a goal difference which, if they beat West Ham, would be at least eight better than Liverpool. “Let’s see what happens,” Klopp said. “If they lose, if they win then we will judge that and go from there.”
The Liverpool manager said his greatest regret was that the scheduling of the FA Cup final before the end of the league season meant that he and his players could not celebrate. “Such a fantastic competition and such a fantastic occasion and then you limit the celebration,” Klopp said, “how can you do that?”
Thomas Tuchel praised his Chelsea players but added that they had pressure - from injuries to key players and that the government sanctions on owner Roman Abramovich were also beginning to tell. Neither Kai Havertz nor Timo Werner were fit enough to play. Tuchel said: “They [Liverpool] have an awful lot to play for, they are in this spirit where everybody’s available for this team for a long time.
“They are very, very, very consistent and we are in the opposite situation at the moment given the sanctions. Players are leaving and to arrive in a final like this against Liverpool, to play like we did, you have the feeling that we deserve it. If we bring out a performance like this for the second time in a row - I’m not saying they [Liverpool] didn’t deserve it but I thought we did a bit more maybe. Given how we arrived and unfortunately I have nothing in my hands to prove that”.