John Gibbons: There’s less pressure on Salah this year, but he’ll want to ram it home

After being cruelly taken out in last season’s European showpiece, the Egyptian ready to make this year’s final the Salah show.


Greetings from Spain! After driving through most of England and the whole of France it is lovely to finally be in the country where the Champions League Final is being held.

Unlike with Ukraine last year, there wasn’t a border that made you queue up for hours to get bothered by men with massive guns. We just drove in, which was nice.

In fact, the driver didn’t even realise we were in Spain until we got to a service station and he tried to speak French to the shop assistant.

It’s slightly concerning that the man responsible for our safety missed the massive ‘WELCOME TO SPAIN’ sign. But, I prefer to think he just solely had eyes for the road ahead, focussed on nothing else.

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As kick-off gets closer I move from thinking about the game every 30 seconds to every 20. By Saturday it will be the only thing on my mind. If you ask me my name, I’ll struggle to remember!

Although that might be partially down to the Estrella in Madrid, it will mainly be because of the prospect of Liverpool lifting their sixth European Cup.

If you reckon I’m thinking about it a lot, imagine being Mo Salah. I imagine he’s thought about little else since Kiev and being forced out the game by an injury inflicted by Sergio Ramos.

What should have been a glorious night, the crowning glory on a record-breaking season for the Egyptian, one that saw him go from great player to world superstar, instead ended in tears and then defeat.

It’s seemed like it has played on his mind all year.

Not quite as happy, not quite as prolific. Not quite reaching the almost impossible standards he has set himself. Still dangerous, of course, but maybe more human. Someone who had found it all so easy and then suddenly life was so hard. So unfair!

I hope this year he realises there is less pressure on his shoulders. In the 12 months since the team and squad have become better and stronger.

Sadio Mané has as many league goals as him this season. There is quality off the bench if needed. It’s not all on Salah. He should be able to just relax and play his football.

He probably won’t relax. But, that’s fine. Maybe it’s better he goes into a final motivated to right wrongs.

Determined to have the final he was denied.

Prepared to show the world that he is a superstar capable of performing on the biggest stage in the world.

While most players get nervous with big games, the most special players just see destiny and the opportunity to write their names in history.

I doubt Cristiano Ronaldo gets nervous.

He just sees a pitch he knows he belongs on, a showcase for his talents when the whole world is watching. Another chapter in his story to be written.

Mo will be the same. Maybe not quite at Ronaldo’s level in talent, but he’ll have that mindset. I’m the best and I’m going to show you.

You wouldn’t put it past him and I can’t wait to see it!

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