Atlético de Madrid is not brilliant, perhaps, but it has a gift. Without genius, but with rigor and solidity, his great strengths, he was able to thwart the European champion who, week by week, never stops impressing the continent. And he won (1-0). Liverpool’s only rider in his domestic championship (76 points out of 78 possible), his almost perfect course in the Champions League (only one defeat in Naples) so far could have frightened the Madrid club, painful fourth in La Liga with only two victories in 2020.
At home, and a little at his opponent too since the English were crowned kings of Europe on June 1 st on this same lawn of Wanda Metropolitano, the Spanish club followed to the letter the recipe that made its success and he allowed, in particular, to reach the final of this competition twice (2014 and 2016): defend, even fold, without ever breaking, and play against. The method proved all the more effective as the Spaniards scored very early. First corner and Saul Niguez, forgotten at the far post, places a winning cross strike with the right foot. We play the fourth minute, Atlético leads 1-0 and the match is folded.
Salah and Mané, the two fantastic can do nothing. Klopp, the famous manager, is helpless. For once, he can’t find the fault. The safe does not open. Simeone, the Argentinean coach of the Madrilenians, wins his chess game. Atlético’s narrow football is a winning football. The Reds will have to rely on the magic of their Anfield stadium, their fiery crowd, and their faith in their lucky stars on March 11 in the return match to hope to see the quarterfinals. It is doable but it is not done. Far from there. It will be necessary to pierce this wall striped with red and white. And history does not necessarily tilt in their favor. The last clash between the two teams, which dates back to 2010, in the Europa League semi-final, ended in a draw in the double confrontation and a qualification by Atlético in overtime.