3 Tactical steps Liverpool must take to beat Atletico Madrid | UEFA Champions League 2019-20
- Atletico Madrid enjoy a slender lead heading into the second leg but Liverpool can certainly overturn the tie on its head.
Atletico Madrid pulled off the surprise result of beating Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League tie. Diego Simeone's side shut out the imperious Merseysiders and managed to score through a scrappy set-piece. Their defensive performance was especially impressive considering how freely Liverpool have scored this season.
However, the tie is far from over and a 1-0 lead could prove to be insignificant. Jurgen Klopp's side have endured a difficult week and will be looking to bounce back in front of the Kop. Here are three tactical steps Liverpool must take to overturn the deficit.
#1 Mark Thomas Partey well
Thomas Partey, Atletico's midfielder was the star performer in the reverse leg. The Ghanaian is pivotal to Atletico's defensive shape. His stamina, intelligence and technical ability provide Atleti with a reliable presence in the midfield. His importance to their attack cannot be understated either as Partey is tasked with recycling the possession and keeping the ball well when Atletico have possession. Partey is also extremely press-resistant making him immune to Liverpool's press.
The mistake Klopp's side made in the reverse leg was giving Partey far too much space and time on the ball. Instead, Liverpool must try to overwhelm the Ghanaian with numbers in midfield. Liverpool's midfield trio must ensure they are constantly behind their Atletico counterpart. Furthermore, Liverpool need to position themselves intelligently and between the lines to ensure that Partey does not have a role to play defensively.
#2 Overload the wide areas
Liverpool's biggest strength is the quality of their wide players. A team boasting the likes of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson must utilize their skills to the fullest. Atletico are extremely difficult to break down. They concede minimal space and overloading the flanks is easier said than done. However, it is Liverpool's best shot at breaking down the resilient defence.
If the wingers and full-backs can isolate Atletico's full-backs, they can enjoy a degree of space on the flanks. By creating such 2v1 situations and overlapping, it opens up a significant outlet for Liverpool to attack from. Furthermore, Atletico are generally impervious to being attacked centrally. Their defensive structure has shown vulnerability against width and Liverpool would be wise to exploit the same.
#3 Ensure more movement from the midfielders
Atletico's deep-block is arguably the best among the teams in Europe. It requires a great deal of movement by the opposition, across the pitch, to create something against Simeone's side. In the reverse leg, Liverpool's midfielders were somewhat quiet when it came to how much they made themselves available for passes. The trio of Georginio Wijnaldum, Fabinho and Jordan Henderson was static and did not work hard enough off the ball.
At Anfield, Liverpool need to score and therefore need to change the composition of the midfield. Jordan Henderson can anchor the midfield in Fabinho's role while the Brazilian should be replaced by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who brings more impetus and dribbling to the side. If Wijnaldum retains his place, he must be instructed to make himself available between Atletico's lines and in the pockets of space in order to attract pressure.
If the opposition's first two defensive lines can be drawn apart, it would give Liverpool more space to create better chances and take shots. Similarly, if Naby Keita is fit, the Guinean must definitely start as his skillset would suit such a game perfectly. Nevertheless, Liverpool will need to move the ball quickly to create any sort of discomfort among Atletico's defensive shape.Published 09 Mar 2020, 17:59 IST