Liverpool vs. Atlético Madrid: Preview
| Wednesday, March 14th | UEFA Champions League | Anfield | 9.00AM NZ / 7.00AM AU / 8.00PM UK |
Liverpool play host to Atléti in a must-win clash under the bright Anfield lights on Wednesday; a season-defining game for the Reds who are hoping to defend their European crown.
Liverpool know they face an uphill battle; Andy Robertson has spoken about a “complete performance” being what is needed to take the Reds through to a third successive Champions League quarter-final. That feeling seems to be running through the whole club; the squad are very aware of how frustrating this Atlético side are to play against.
Jürgen Klopp seems to be in a typically belligerent mood ahead of the return leg. I particularly enjoyed his reaction in the immediate aftermath of the first tie, he knew that his side had been wounded, now limping back to fortress Anfield in the hopes of picking off the Rojiblancos at home:
In his latest pre-match press conference he was slightly more reserved than in the clip above. This changed, however, upon being quizzed around the ongoing health pandemic; Coronavirus. After the issue was raised for the second time in his interview, he took issue with a Madrid based journalist’s question around the 10:05 mark below:
Liverpool FC NZ spoke about how vitally important Adrián now finds himself in shaping LFC’s overall season in the previous post. Much like in the lead up to the 4-0 home victory over Barcelona last season, it feels like, in the run-up to this one, Liverpool’s ability to keep a clean sheet will be just as important as their ability to score goals at the other end.
Much has been made about Liverpool failing to register a shot on target at the Wanda, for Klopp, this is less of an issue.
Look, no shots on target sounds like we had no chances, that’s not the fact. We had situations… the challenge against Atlético was always clear from the first moment… they don’t go out with the white flag, they fight until the end. That’s what we do, that’s why it’s so interesting.Jürgen Klopp on the first leg
Liverpool will welcome the return of Andy Robertson as well as influential captain, Jordan Henderson. I’m hoping to see Henderson start in the ‘6’ position; Fabinho has been underwhelming in that role following his own return from injury.
As for the away side, there are lingering fitness issues surrounding a few of their ‘big-name’ players. Kieran Trippier was withdrawn from Atlético’s weekend clash with Sevilla after picking up a knock. Thomas Lemar remains a doubt whilst Alvaro Morata also battles to get minutes under his belt. Atléti will relish the return of their major creative outlet, João Félix, who missed the first leg against the Merseyside men.
Predicted Line-up (4-3-3)
Adrián (GK), Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino, Mané
LFC NZ is hoping to see another memorable night at Anfield in the European Cup. With Diego Simeone’s Madrid, you know what you are going to get; defending in a low-block, fighting for every set-piece and breaking upfield to catch Liverpool out with quick counters.
Obviously, everybody will be hoping for an early goal for the reds but unfortunately, I can see this one going the distance.
The players and the crowd must stay patient as a frustrating night surely lies ahead. Liverpool have demonstrated this patience in the past, notably against Napoli in the group stage last year. They have also shown an ability to simply find a way of winning when they need to, now, would seem like the perfect time.
I’m going for 1-0 in normal time, 2-0 after extra time.