This Tuesday, February 18, 2020, Liverpool will be competing on the lawn of Atlético de Madrid in the round of 16 first leg of the Champions League. The Reds, crowned last year at the same stadium in Wanda Metropolitano, hope to defend their title in a style opposition between Jürgen Klopp and the team of Diego Simeone. Follow the meeting live from 9 p.m.
The club of Liverpool finds the good air of Madrid: crowned at the Metropolitano stadium in 2019, the champion of the Champions League returns to the same place Tuesday in the knockout stages of the first leg against Atlético (21:00), determined to keep his European crown since the national title seems assured.
The challenge will be daunting against the Reds who have taken 76 points out of 78 possible since the start of the Premier League season, and are breaking all the records one by one. They are twenty-five points ahead of their closest chaser, Manchester City, who will have an even more complicated showdown against another Madrid club, Zinedine Zidane’s Real, next week.
Such a chasm 12 days before the end of the Premier League means that they could be crowned in five days, in the derby at Everton following the return match of this eighth, and lift a trophy that has eluded them for 30 years.
Those who think that such a scenario could quell Jürgen Klopp’s men’s thirst for victory are likely to be at their expense.
“Able to beat the best”
The German technician, who had taken his men to the Europa League final in his first season, hopes to make Liverpool the 5th team to play three consecutive C1 finals – with Real, Benfica, Ajax Amsterdam and Bayern Munich.
Above all, he aims to achieve the double, like the team of the late 70s led by Bob Paisley, titled in 1977 and 1978.
“I have no idea if we can win the Champions League again, but we really have to be ready to fight for it”said Klopp.
“What I know and what we have shown over the past few years is that we are able to beat the best”, he added.
Already a winner of the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup, Liverpool are aiming for a sumptuous five-fold this season since they are still in the running for the FA Cup.
Atlético has lost its superb
But before that, it will be necessary to discard the rough Atlético, which has lost much of its superb. The team from last season would have been a big challenge for the Reds, capable of standing up to them in terms of intensity, very airtight defensively and very dangerous offensively.
“Atleti” is completely out of the race for the Liga title this season and is struggling to save a fragile 4th place, the last qualifier for the next C1.
Offensively, the loss of Antoine Griezmann (who left for Barcelona) hurt very much and the promising striker Joao Félix, snatched for 126 million euros from Benfica, only shines intermittently. He is in any event uncertain for the first leg, while Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata have just returned from injury.
The Atlético keep some advantages, including its organization in strict 4-4-2 which is reminiscent of that of Naples Ancelotti at the start of the season, the only team to have made the Reds throat this season (2-0 ) in the group stage.
However, his defense so famous, trademark of Diego Simeone teams having reached two C1 finals in 2014 and 2016, is likely to be put to the test by Liverpool: the Reds have won their last 11 league games in a cumulative score of 24 to 1. And as the air of Madrid seems to succeed them…