Sunday, 05 April, 2020

Jurgen Klopp hits out at Atletico's negative play after defeat

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone Klopp - Atletico Madrid crowd played factor in loss, warns of Anfield awe
Cary Erickson | 19 February, 2020, 10:52

Atletico's Wanda Metropolitano stadium was the scene of Liverpool's 2-0 triumph over Tottenham Hotspur in last year's final but they faced a very different type of atmosphere this time around.

The reigning European champions suffered a 1-0 defeat to Atletico in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie, courtesy of an early goal from Spain worldwide Saul Niguez.

"You need to be really strong as a referee in this atmosphere".

Following the match, the former Borussia Dortmund boss revealed that he feared Mane would be sent off after being booked in the first half and lamented the fact that the opposition players were seemingly intent on getting him red-carded.

"Even in 2014 and 2016 when Simeone got them to Champions League finals, I just didn't want them to have the satisfaction of winning it". We had games in atmospheres like this where we lost focus and they scored a second.

If Alvaro Morata had not slipped at the crucial moment, Atleti might even have taken a two-goal lead to Anfield, where they can expect an onslaught next month.

But on Tuesday they produced a vintage defensive display, sitting deep and barely giving Liverpool any space for their attacking trident of Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane to work their usual magic.

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He caused little disquiet to Atletico's towering defenders, yet Salah should have levelled with a header which went wide of the near post, while Henderson also narrowly missed the target from inside the area later on.

Sadio Mane, on a yellow card, was replaced at half-time by Divock Origi while Lemar made way for the more conscientious Marcos Llorente.

In the other tie, the goals took a while to come but eventually I got the three needed, with Erling Haaland's two for Dortmund landing Scott a nice members' bet success. He was targeted. It was clear.

"We put in a decent performance and we know we can be better".

Despite having the advantage, El Cholo knows how tough the second leg will be at Anfield.

"We're going to play with a lot of humility, because they are accustomed to playing massive games in their stadium", he said.

Liverpool look to smother teams, and suffocate them, and they know how to make life hard for any opposition who come to Anfield and try to shut up shop.