Liverpool couldn't beat Manchester City to the Premier League title, but the UEFA Champions League finalists have played well enough to "deserve" a trophy this season, according to Georginio Wijnaldum.
The midfielder thinks Liverpool must go one better when they face Tottenham Hotspur for the biggest prize in European club football on Saturday, 1 June. Wijnaldum's brace put the Reds in the final following the 4-0 semi-final second-leg comeback against Barcelona at Anfield.
He told Sky Sports: "It would be really sad if we finish the season without a title. I think this season deserves one. We were quite consistent this season and we did so well. Now is the challenge to finish with a title to make the season complete."
A sense of deserving a title is understandable after Liverpool accumulated 97 points but still finished second to City in England's top flight. The gaudy total would have comfortably made Wijnaldum and his teammates champions in all but one of every other Premier League season since the competition began.
While being outperformed by City is becoming a habit, Liverpool still merit praise for the way they pushed their rivals all the way to the wire. A team uncompromising in defence, industrious in midfield and rapid and ruthless in attack produced a glut of commendable numbers.
Liverpool in 2018/19: ✅ Racked up 97 points ✅ Fewest goals conceded ✅ Van Dijk won Player of Year ✅ Alisson has most clean sheets ✅ Salah & Mane joint PL top scorers ✅ No points dropped for 70 days They didn’t win the title... But big congrats on an epic season 👏 https://t.co/LzReMTj64U
Accumulating 97 points didn't land the Reds a domestic prize, but it did put this squad into some select company across European football.
Appearing alongside Real Madrid has a tinge of irony to it as Wijnaldum looks ahead to the trip to the Spanish capital to face Spurs. Liverpool lost last season's Champions League final 3-1 to a Real team inspired by former Tottenham star Gareth Bale.
Now Liverpool will be optimistic about going one better, having beaten Spurs twice in domestic action this season. Both games finished 2-1, a reflection of how little there is to choose between these familiar opponents, but the Reds at least have something of a psychological edge.
Wijnaldum knows "it's going to be tough," but is welcoming the chance for Liverpool to be able to "control" the outcome with their performance. It was a different story in the league, where the Reds were at the mercy of City's results: "The last couple of games were basically games where we could only win and look at what City were doing. They won also. Fair enough, they are champions."
Liverpool have been able to determine their own fate in Europe, where impressive wins over Bayern Munich and Porto handed the club a meeting with Barca in the last four. A 3-0 first-leg defeat at the Camp Nou made a return to the final seem unlikely, before Wijnaldum and Divock Origi each bagged a brace on a famous night on Merseyside.
Wijnaldum came off the bench against the Blaugrana, and he's no lock to start the final either, despite scoring against Spurs at Wembley Stadium back in September. Fabinho has made the holding role his own at the base of midfield, while James Milner and Jordan Henderson are relentless pressers further forward.
No matter who plays, this talented Liverpool squad needs a trophy, having lost in three finals, including the Capital One Cup and UEFA Europa League in 2016, since Jurgen Klopp took over as manager.