Champions League Match Preview: Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid
Liverpool will look to channel the power of Anfield once again as the club yet again strives to complete a European comeback.
The Reds face their toughest test yet as Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid come to town. The Spaniards were able to successfully blunt the Liverpool attack unlike no other team this season. They will attempt to do the same as they come into the match with a one-goal lead.
Saul Niguez was the hero of the night as his early goal capped off an impressive performance by Atletico. Liverpool will hope they can turn it around as they strive to defend the club’s sixth European crown.
Jurgen Klopp has never lost a two-legged tie for Liverpool while Simeone has experienced a number of second-half collapses. It promises to be an intriguing contest between two sides with completely different philosophies.
Liverpool do not have a good record against Atletico. The Reds have won just one of the five encounters and will be keen to set the record right this Wednesday.
Alisson Becker will be the biggest name out for Liverpool as captain Jordan Henderson looks set to return from injury. The Brazilian No.1’s assured presence in goal will be a big miss as the Reds cannot afford to concede a goal at home.
It remains to be seen if Henderson will make the starting XI given his lack of match fitness. Fabinho has struggled of late and could be dropped for James Milner if Henderson only makes the bench. The Reds will also be boosted by the return of Andrew Robertson, who missed the win against Bournemouth on Saturday.
Nathaniel Clyne and Xhedan Shaqiri are still out while Klopp has an otherwise full squad to choose from.
The Spaniards have a shorter injury list, with the likes of Keiran Tripper and Joao Felix returning to action. Tripper looked to be in some discomfort at the weekend and it remains to be seen if he will make the cut.
Felix was withdrawn as Atletico drew 2-2 with Sevilla at the weekend and looks set to start at Anfield. Diego Costa too has garnered enough game time since returning in the first leg last month. French international Thomas Lemar is likely to be the only significant absentee for Diego Simeone’s side.
Adrian, Tren Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, James Milner, Georginio Wijnaldum, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah
Jan Oblak, Sime Vrsaljko, Stefan Savic, Felipe, Renan Lodi, Saul, Thomas Partey, Marcos Llorente, Koke, Joao Felix, Alvaro Morata.
Players to watch
Probably Liverpool’s brightest player in the first half. The Senegalese superstar has a point to prove after being forced to come off in the first leg due to Atletico’s shenanigans.
The striker got a yellow card and the Spaniards resorted to antics to try to get him sent off. Jurgen Klopp took the pragmatic approach and decided to sub off his star man for Divock Origi at half-time.
A highly motivated individual, Mane will be keen to make amends at Anfield and will seek to remind Atletico that they were right to fear him. Mane has scored thrice since returning from injury, with all three goals turning out to be the winners on the night.
He has stepped up when Liverpool have needed him and will seek to do so again as another famous night beckons under the Anfield lights.
The midfield has turned out to be Liverpool’s soft underbelly in Henderson’s absence. Liverpool captain’s organizational ability and tenacity were missed as the Reds were far too often overrun in the middle of the park.
Spanish international Koke will relish the challenge once again as Atletico look to blunt the Reds attack. An energetic presence, the Atletico skipper’s performances could decide the direction in which the cookie crumbles.
More Liverpool News
- Jurgen Klopp praises Liverpool’s fighting spirit after win over Bournemouth
- Three things we learned as Liverpool beat Bournemouth
- Twitter reacts to James Milner goal-line clearance against Bournemouth
Good on the ball, strong in the tackle and with energy reserves in abundance, the 28-year-old will have to be contained for the Reds to gain a foothold in midfield.
Quick on the break, he can also set up Atletico on the counter if the Reds are naive in possession. It could very well turn out to be the battle of the captains if Henderson starts, with the winner most likely leading his side to victory.