Atletico Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0 at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, as Saúl Ñíguez scored at 4th minute after Koke’s corner fell into free space and Atletico midfielder did not miss the opportunity.
Liverpool were probably little awestruck with the ferocity with which Atletico Madrid chased each and every ball and continued that till referee blew the last whistle. Never saw Klopp watching the proceeding with his mouth wide open in the second half and being booked for reactions.
In all those premier league matches, Liverpool needed a chance to score, they generally dominate, even Pep’s Manchester City are dealt with the same way. Ole Solskjær’s Manchester United were different, as they resort to low bock game, defending with all they had and making most out of the counter-attack. That went well in the first leg in Premier League, the only match Liverpool drew in last calendar year. But in the second leg, United without Rashford, despite fighting well, went down 0-2.
Game Changing Situations
Liverpool must be cursing themselves, for conceding a goal, which Saúl Ñíguez converted from a loose ball. But they would be more surprised after the match, finding the fact that they could not score a goal in the remaining 86 minutes. The side which won everything in their way should be confident, and that was evident from Sadio Mane, who was seen joking with the referee during the kick-off after goal.
But it was a different day today. Liverpool should be more surprised realising the fact that they did not make any attempt ‘on target’.
But there were two situations which could bring a change in score-sheet when a header from Mohamed Salah and a volley on the turn by Jordan Henderson missed the post for few inches.
On the other hand, Atletico Madrid squandered a few chances. In one, Morata was denied by Alisson stretched leg and the second one, Morata could not make a proper contact from 10 yards and fell upon. The later was the easiest in the game.
What Simeone did differently?
He was in tremendous pressure because of his team’s La Liga performance, and it was reported that these could be his last few matches in Champions League as Atletico Madrid Coach. But his team’s display on the field was impressive.
- Fight for every ball – Atletico were chasing each ball
- Block Every shot – To Atletico’s credit, they never allowed Liverpool to take a punch from or within 20 yards. They blocked shots aiming at goal, even they blocked passes.
- Force to Commit to something different – If you do 1. and 2., you force the opponent to release the ball differently.
- Bring more players in a duel – Atletico relentlessly backed up its player, who was in one-on-one with Liverpool by committing more numbers in the fight for the ball, when it was necessary. For example, Salah was always challenged by Atletico, with somebody as a backup.
- Do everything to frustrate and disengage opponent – When you do 1., 2., 3. and 4. relentlessly, you would get this as result. Salah and Mane were withdrawn by 72th minute of the match. The other substitute Jordan Henderson had to be pulled out for hamstring issue, which might have caused during his attempted volley.
- Above all respect luck – Even though you do the above, one needs to have a bit of luck to sail though, as the Salah header and Henderson volley missed target narrowly.
- Do it for 90 minutes relentlessly, continue through injury time – The incredible work-rate, Atletico had shown today were mind-blowing. Atletico have outrun Liverpool by at least 5%, with a whopping 63% less ball-possession.
This was not negative football. Atletico were positive, but it only possible when a team can commit to that kind of work-rate and make absolutely no mistake.
Diego Simeone was so much fun to watch during the game. Apart from the above which he extracted from the team, he relentlessly
- Made most out of the dugout – Never sat on a chair
- Motivated players and supporters to commit the same intensity.
Question is can Atletico do it again at Anfield
Jan Oblak, Šime Vrsaljko, Stefan Savić, Felipe Augusto, Renan Lodi, Koke, Thomas Partey, Saúl Ñíguez, Thomas Lemar (Marcos Llorente, 46′), Álvaro Morata (Vitolo, 70′), Ángel Correa (Diego Costa, 77′)
Alisson Becker, Andrew Robertson, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Georginio Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson (James Milner, 80′), Sadio Mané (Divock Origi, 46′), Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah (Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain 72′)
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