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3 reasons why Diego Simeone would be confident of getting a result at Anfield | UEFA Champions League 2019-20

  • Highlighting three reasons why Atletico Madrid can get the job done at Anfield
Elvis Ume O
ANALYST
Feature
Modified 10 Mar 2020, 04:21 IST

Diego Simeone would square off with Liverpool at Anfield
Diego Simeone would square off with Liverpool at Anfield

The return legs of the UEFA Champions League last-16 fixtures take place this week, with a number of clubs hoping to get the job done and progress to the quarter-final of the competition.

With the exception of a few ties that were all-but sealed in the first leg, most of the clashes are firmly in the balance, meaning almost every side will go all out in the return meetings to ensure progression.

One of the fixtures that most fans will have their eyes on is the match between Atletico Madrid and Liverpool at Anfield, with the Spaniards having a narrow one-goal lead to protect.

Anfield is one of the most historic stadiums in the world, with much made of the atmosphere generated in the stands on European nights. Having performed numerous unforeseen comebacks in front of their own fans, the smart money is on Liverpool to get the job done in front of the Kop.

However, Diego Simeone will fancy his side's chances of knocking out the defending champions on their own turf. Here, we're highlighting three things that could be behind that confidence:

#3 Liverpool have not been too convincing in recent weeks

Liverpool have flattered to deceive in recent weeks
Liverpool have flattered to deceive in recent weeks

Liverpool have been by far the best and most consistent team in Europe over the last 12 months - their triumphs in the Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, and Club World Cup back this up.

The Reds have been almost perfect this season and, having virtually guaranteed a first Premier League triumph in three decades, they were the overwhelming favourites to retain their European crown, too.

The first leg defeat suffered by the Merseysiders at the Wanda Metroplitano was only the second of the campaign for the Anfield outfit's senior side and, since then, Liverpool have lost some of their swagger - even stuttering in victory.

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The team suffered two consecutive defeats after the Madrid setback, bringing the total to three losses from four matches, which was more than they had managed in their previous 50 games in all competitions.

Even their victories have been less than convincing, with a late winner needed to dispatch relegation-threatened Norwich City, while two individual errors also accounted for their goals against Bournemouth.

Had the impending Champions League game been played two months ago, Atletico Madrid would have stood no chance against a rampant Liverpool, but the Reds have been less than stellar since returning from the winter break, and might just be there for the taking.

#2 With Adrian in between the sticks, Atleti will fancy their chances of getting an away goal

Adrian was not convincing over the weekend
Adrian was not convincing over the weekend

In the lead-up to the clash with Bournemouth at the weekend, Jurgen Klopp delivered the dreaded news that first choice goalkeeper, Alisson, had been ruled out of the clash with Atletico Madrid due to a calf injury.

The Brazilian international has been nothing short of spectacular since arriving Anfield from the Stadio Olimpico, and he brought an instant solution to what has been a problem area for Liverpool in the last decade.

The peculiar nature of the goalkeeping position means that they rarely get the spotlight - except for negative reasons. it is a well known fact, though, that great goalkeepers are often the difference between winning trophies and finishing empty-handed, with Alisson's superb saves from Messi and Suarez in the semi-final, as well as his performance in the final, playing a key role in Liverpool's Champions League triumph last term.

In his absence, Adrian will take his place between the sticks, and it is safe to say that the former West Ham man does not command the same respect as Alisson does, while his decision making and poor handling gives cause for concern.

The 34-year-old was handed a start against Bournemouth on Saturday. and he was less than convincing, with some of his jittery saves leading to audible groans from the Anfield crowd. He especially looked unconvincing in his handling of set-piece deliveries, and this could be exploited by a physical Atletico Madrid side.

For every goal Los Colchoneros score at Anfield, Liverpool would need three, and the difficulty of achieving this would give Atletico the impetus to go for an away goal - their charge no doubt buoyed by the presence of Adrian in goal.

#1 Diego Simeone knows how to get the job done in situations like this

Atletico Madrid v Liverpool FC - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg
Atletico Madrid v Liverpool FC - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

Diego Simeone deserves immense praise for his decade-long job at Atletico Madrid, and his transformational work in turning the capital side from a mid-table LaLiga outfit into European heavyweights is not to be understated.

In the last five years, Atletico have shown a willingness to go toe-to-toe with more traditional sides on the continent, and Simeone's tactical nous means that they have. mostly, gotten the better of 'bigger' sides, despite being some way off in terms of talent and financial clout.

In this time, they have gone to iconic stadiums like the Camp Nou, Allianz Arena, Stamford Bridge, and San Siro and have succeeded, despite not being given much of a chance against these elite sides.

Diego Simeone knows how to coax his players into upping the ante on big European nights, and only two sides - or better yet, only one man - has gotten the better of them in the last six years, with Cristiano Ronaldo seemingly the one who has Atletico's number in situations like this.

Facing Liverpool at Anfield is no mean task, regardless of their form. Yet even in the face of a hostile crowd, Diego Simeone, no stranger to high-pressure situations in Europe, will be unfazed.

Published 10 Mar 2020, 04:21 IST
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