Liverpool have suffered two Champions League final defeats at the hands of Real Madrid in a space of four years.
Gareth Bale has claimed Liverpool players ‘struggled to sleep’ ahead of taking on Real Madrid in the 2018 Champions League final.
An evening that ended in heartache for Jurgen Klopp’s side, the Reds saw Mohamed Salah wiped out of the game by Sergio Ramos before going on to lose 3-1 under cruel circumstances. It’s a game that will forever be remembered for two moments to forget for Loris Karius and a moment to cherish for Bale, whose bicycle kick with seven minutes to play guaranteed Real’s win.
You could see the pain in the eyes of Jordan Henderson and the rest of the Liverpool first team after being denied European glory as Madrid celebrated a 13th title in the competition. Despite emerging as a game-changer for Los Blancos off the bench that evening, Bale had only started one game during the 2017/18 knockout stages and expressed his desire for regular game time when speaking after the match.
Bale was again part of the Real squad that got the better of Liverpool last year in Paris as Carlo Ancelotti guided the Spanish giants to another European trophy. Looking back on the first of the Champions League final triumphs at the Reds’ expense, the retired Welshman believes the mindset of Madrid ensured there was only ever going to be one outcome in Kyiv.
“Just being at Madrid, it’s that aura that you expect to win every game,” the 33-year-old said to BT Sport. “Even going into a final, even me going there at first, I was expecting to win. You know you have the pressure on you, all the people watching, the club’s expectations, the fans and the media, but you have that expectation you are going to win. It’s hard to explain, you go in and feel like you’re a winner already.
“I remember speaking to Adam Lallana after we beat Liverpool in the first game  we played against them in the final. Some of them struggled to sleep, they were nervous about it and we were just like it’s another game; we expect to win and beat you, even though you’ve been playing better than us. We know how to grind out a result, especially in a final.”
In the days after the 2018 showpiece fixture, it was reported Bale had spent about 20 minutes inside the Liverpool dressing room to console Reds players. Bale allegedly used the majority of his time talking to his former Southampton team-mate Lallana, whom he played with at St Mary’s in 2006, and Welsh team-mate Ben Woodburn.
A conversation between the pair did take place, though this occurred in the drug testing room after both players had been called for a mandatory doping test by UEFA after the full-time whistle. Bale then saw Woodburn in the corridor afterwards and spent a brief period conversing with his Welsh compatriot.