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UEFA Champions League: Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid Preview

Atletico Madrid will head to Anfield on Thursday for a UEFA Champions League tie against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool as they try to turn around their fortunes in European and domestic tournaments. Diego Simeone’s men were outwitted by the Reds during the reverse tie last month when Mohamed Salah’s goal decided the fixture in their favour in the second half. This will also be the first time Atletico Madrid will travel to Anfield since the pandemic forced football behind closed doors across England – the fixture between Liverpool and Atletico Madrid was the last large mass gathering in England in 2020 before the tournament was suspended.

As Diego Simeone’s men travel to Anfield with the intent to take revenge on the Reds, here’s our preview of the Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid fixture:

LIVERPOOL

The Reds have had a strong start to the season despite not being one of the favourites to win the Premier League. After 10 fixtures in the league, Liverpool sit in second spot in the table with 22 points, just three behind Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea. What is more surprising is the fact that Liverpool have not lost a single match in the league so far – they have won six games and drawn the rest. Their matches against minnows have been a cakewalk so far, with the strikers – led by Mohamed Salah – registering a whopping 29 goals so far, the most in the league. Their performance against the ‘big six’ clubs has been equally impressive, and it included a 5-0 thumping of Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have been equally impressive in the Champions League, winning three out of three group stage fixtures to date. Mohamed Salah has been the linchpin of their success – the Egyptian star striker has scored in every European game so far and is expected to continue his form on Thursday at home. Sadio Mane and Robert Firmino have been equally impressive at the front, with both players contributing significantly to the goal-fest. It is in the midfield that Liverpool face most of their troubles, with Naby Keita joining James Milner and Harvey Elliott on the list of injuries. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could start beside Jordan Henderson and Curtis Jones, while Diogo Jota may replace Firmino at the front to give one of the strikers a rest.

Liverpool’s defensive woes continue to be a thorn in their plans, with the Reds conceding eight goals so far in the league compared to Chelsea’s three. They have not managed to keep a single clean sheet so far in the Champions League, and with Luis Suarez against them, Liverpool could be in trouble if they do not sort out their defensive tactics by Thursday.

ATLETICO MADRID

After winning La Liga last year, Diego Simeone’s men have started off the season as one of the favourites to win the Champions League. A strong attacking unit backed up by an invincible defensive setup made their case for a strong performance both in Spain and on the European stage. But their Champions League stint has been less than optimal, to say the least as they have collected just four points from three fixtures. A goalless draw against Porto, followed by a last-minute victory against Milan and a deafening defeat to Liverpool at home have put their hopes of an easy ride into the knockout round in doubt, with Los Colchoneros now on level points with Porto.

Atletico have been plagued by several red cards this season. Antoine Griezmann picked up a red card in the reverse fixture against Liverpool last month, so he will miss the fixture along with Stefan Savic, who will serve the last match of his lengthy suspension. Marcos Llorente and Thomas Lemar will miss the fixture due to injuries, while Geoffrey Kondogbia is likely to miss the fixture. Luis Suarez will lead the attack from the front along with Angel Correa and Joao Felix.

HEAD TO HEAD

Both clubs have had few encounters against each other owing to the difference in fortunes across time, but the frequency of their meetings has increased in recent years due to the rise in their respective statures. Liverpool and Atletico Madrid have competed in seven fixtures so far, with Atletico holding the upper hand with three wins compared to Liverpool’s two. The Reds lost both matches against Atletico Madrid last year, before taking revenge last month with a 3-2 victory.

WHAT TO EXPECT

While Atletico Madrid started off the season as favourites to win the group, Liverpool have caught their opponents by surprise both in England and Europe. With an undefeated record in the Premier League and the Champions League, Liverpool go into the fixture with confidence. A 2-2 draw against Brighton might have brought them back to earth, but a victory at home can bring back their confidence. Diego Simeone’s troubles are only exacerbated by the absence of Griezmann, and their ability to exploit a weakened Liverpool’s defences is now in doubt.

We expect Liverpool to come out of the fixture with a win with goals expected on both sides.

Liverpool Predicted XI: Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil Van Dijk, Andew Robertson, Curtis Jones, Jordan Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, Sadio Mane

Atlético Madrid Predicted XI: Oblak, Felipe, Jose Maria Gimenez, Mario Hermoso, Kieran Trippier, Rodrigo de Paul, Koke, Carrasco, Joao Felix, Luis Suarez, Angel Correa

When: Thursday, 4th November, 1:30 AM IST

Where: Anfield, Liverpool

Where to Watch: Select matches of the UEFA Champions League will be broadcast on Sony Ten 1, Sony Ten 2 and Sony Six HD and SD channels. All fixtures will also be streamed live on SonyLIV.