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Champions League: Red’s Title Defence Continues In Madrid

Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool

Liverpool continue their Champions League title campaign on Tuesday with a trip to the Wanda Metropolitano to take on Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid.

The two sides come into the match in contrasting form; the Liverpool juggernaut surges onwards, while Los Rojiblancos have rather stuttered recently. But Atleti fought hard to get to the Round of 16, and home advantage should even things up, so we’re set for a cracker in Madrid on Tuesday night.

Jurgen Klopp’s team is at 1.33 with SBOTOP to make it through to the last eight, with Los Rojiblancos at 3.32. A Liverpool win or a score draw will widen the gap, but if the hosts can get a positive result then we’ll have all to play for at Anfield.

 

Talking points

Liverpool’s trophy charge

The Reds have pretty much got the Premier League done and dusted. When they beat Manchester United the Liverpool fans celebrated like they had won their first domestic league title in three decades. They’ve bagged another handful of league wins since then and so the pressure has almost disappeared; the Liverpool players just want to get the job finished.

But they can already concentrate on cup matters with full focus and little or no conflict.

Klopp has a selection problem, but a nice one to have. His tried and tested front three of Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have now been joined by Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain since the England man returned from long term injury. And the Ox has played plenty of Champions League football, scoring three goals, with only Salah beating him at four.

Mane scored his 100th goal in English football in Liverpool’s 0-1 win over Norwich City at the weekend. With Manchester City set to play West Ham on Wednesday it was a win which took Klopp’s side 25 points clear at the top of the table. The Senegalese star started on the bench in the blustery conditions of Carrow Road and he will be pushing for a start, while Firmino just seems to be getting better and better (if that’s possible).

The Brazilian has three assists in the competition and he showed some outrageous skills in the wind and rain in Norwich.

Los Rojiblancos searching for form

Simeone has no such luxury, with striker Joao Felix sidelined with injury; his well organised side is struggling for wins.

Atleti have underperformed in La Liga this season but have showed serious character in the Champions League. Los Rojiblancos fought back to take a crucial point against Juventus at the group stage which helped them join I Bianconeri in the knockout phase.

Atletico Madrid is Steven Savic to lead them to victory as they host Liverpool in Champions League
Steven Savic in action during Atletico Madrid’s match against Leganes

Los Rojiblancos won a hard earned point away to Valencia on Friday night, a result which kept them in fourth place, but they were ahead twice through Marcos Llorente and Thomas Partey and failed to hold on to their lead. That’s unusual for a team which has a hard earned reputation of one of Europe’s meanest defences. But the Madrid side has been missing wing back Kieran Trippier after the former Spurs man underwent groin surgery.

The key men at Atleti’s rearguard will be the former Fiorentina centre back Stefan Savic and keeper Jan Oblak, while creative forwards Vitolo and Saul Niguez will try to stretch the Reds’ backline.

 

History

The Madrid side have had the better of the head to heads having won three, drawn two and lost one of their last six meetings with Liverpool.

But recent form is a worry. Atleti come into the game with one win in six, while Liverpool have five wins and a draw. And it was Klopp’s kids who played out a 2-2 draw with Shrewsbury in the FA Cup, before dispatching the League One side back at Anfield.

Meanwhile Simeone’s side suffered the embarrassment of going out of the Copa del Rey to lower league Leonesa.

 

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