Will Mane dive back to Liverpool
Liverpool's Sadio Mane raves in an exclusive interview: "These are great memories"
Sadio Mane's eyes start to twinkle as he looks at the iPad. We're in the main grandstand on Anfield Road and goal shows the Senegal star pictures of Liverpool's great run in the Champions League, which led the team to the final last season.
"Great memories!" He grins as the video starts playing. Great memories - one can say that. The journey in the premier class ended with a disappointment for the Reds, but the way to the final thrilled their own fans. From Hoffenheim we went to Kiev, with stops in Maribor, Moscow and Manchester:
Jürgen Klopp's team electrified all of Europe and spread fear and horror among the opponents. After many years in the shadow of the other top English clubs, the team moved back into the limelight and presented themselves as a top group on the big stage.
Mane naturally played an important role in this. Extremely polite as a person, just ice cold as a player: The 26-year-old with the calm voice started on the pitch in the premier class in his first season at the very highest level.
He scored ten goals - and scored in every round: he scored three goals in the group stage, a hat-trick in the round of 16 in Porto, an important header against Manchester City in the quarter-finals and in the semifinals in Rome he was also there. And in the final against Real Madrid, it was Mane again who succeeded in losing to the 2005 Champions League winners.
The goals against the Roma appear on the iPad. "Oh no, Alisson!" Laughs Mane as he sees his new teammate trying in vain. "Sorry, my friend. He doesn't like to remember that, does he? He didn't stand a chance!"
Liverpool's incredible run in the Champions League
That's true. There were weeks last season when it felt like no team in the world had a chance against this Liverpool once things went right at the Reds. Neither Maribor and Spartak Moscow, both of whom lost 7-0 to Liverpool in the group stage, nor Porto, who lost 5-0 at home to Liverpool in the round of 16. Manchester City, who dominated the Premier League at will, also had to abandon the sails with an aggregate result of 1: 5 in the round of the last eight. Roma with Alisson between the posts conceded seven goals in the semi-finals - including five goals in just over half an insane hour at Anfield.
"That was the best season I've had so far," said Mane. "But it is clear that I am saying that."
"It wasn't easy for us, but we tried to do our best. At the beginning of the group stage, nobody expected us to make it to the quarter-finals or semi-finals. But we always believed in ourselves, gave everything - and that has brought us far. "
"To be honest, the Champions League is a dream for every player in the world. Well, it has always been my dream, that's for sure."
"Last season I played in the Champions League for the first time. We achieved a lot and I will always remember that. We played against very, very, very good teams and got great results. In the final we got everything tried it, but unfortunately it wasn't enough. But that's also part of football. "
Sadio Mane on CL triumph: "Then why shouldn't we just win?"
"We tried to tick that off - and now we want to try to get back into the final," said Mane. There is a pause and a big grin: "Then why shouldn't we just win?"
Mane also laughs when he is told that he finished 18th in the annual Goal 50 - ahead of players like Sergio Ramos and Neymar. He faces Philippe Coutinho, his ex-teammate, and Sergio Aguero, Isco, Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez and Paulo Dybala.
"But I'm not before Mo, am I?" He asks with a smirk and says Mohamed Salah. No, he hasn't made it this time.
Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino also represented in the Goal 50
His interaction with Salah, who finished third in the Goal 50, and with Roberto Firmino (29th place) was the key to Liverpool's success last season - and it will be the same this season. In total, the trio scored 91 goals in all competitions. Mane was successful 20 times in 44 competitive games; his best value since 2014, when he was still wearing the Red Bull Salzburg jersey. And this season he has already scored seven times and is well on the way to surpass the value from the previous season.
If you look at the performances from the previous season and take into account the fact that Liverpool have made their best league start since 1990, it is a little surprising that the offensive trio is now viewed somewhat critically. Mane, Salah and Firmino still meet, 18 times so far - but is something missing compared to the recent past? Have the performance gotten a little weaker, is everything no longer as effective? Why do some people feel that Liverpool are not quite as strong compared to spring?
"To be honest, I always enjoy playing with such great players," says Mane. "They always make it easy for me!" He adds.
"And these are real top players. We get along great, we like to play together and we also like to set goals for each other. It's great to be on the pitch with them," said Mane of his offensive colleagues Salah and Firmino.
"It's nice for us that everyone is always talking about me, Mo and Bobby, but believe me, the hard work starts with the others. We're Liverpool together. We have a great team overall. The others are them Basis that makes it easy for us attackers to shine, "explains Mane.
The Liverpool players now have to realize that expectations have increased after the successful season. And how does the surprise team fare when it can no longer surprise many opponents? People demand and want to see more - and that's why the pressure is increasing. Stagnation means regression.
"For us this is a motivation, not a pressure," claims Mane. "We're all still young and we know we have a great team. We'll keep trying, but that's not pressure for us. Pressure doesn't help," he added.
"Of course, nobody expected anything from us last season. And maybe this season will be different. But that's not pressure, it's an additional motivation that you need."
"Every player's goal is to keep improving. That's the only reason why we work so hard in training. But you shouldn't forget that we are a team for whom it is most important to win titles. If mine Help goals or those of Mo or Bobby, then that's a dream. "
Sadio Mane: more goals than last season? "Only if we gain something from it"
"Of course I would like to score more goals than last season - but only if we win something as a result," said Mane.
To win a title this season should be difficult for Liverpool again. The Reds got off to a great start in the league, but Manchester City, which cracked the 100-point mark in the Premier League last season, is in an even better position, the competition in the Champions League is traditionally huge anyway.
But Mane believes the Reds can do it. He believes in his team.
"We have a good run and started the season well," he says. "It's too early to talk about the title. We're going from game to game," he added.
"It's all not easy. There are so many great teams: the two from Manchester, Chelsea too. But we are Liverpool. We don't focus on the other clubs, we just look at ourselves."
"Our fans make it easier for us. They are a big part of our success. Sometimes you can see that the opponents are scared because of that. That's why it's Anfield. That's why we're Liverpool. We're here to win."
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