Will it be another magical European night at Anfield?
Liverpool have their work cut out for them. They trail Atletico Madrid 1-0 on aggregate with (obviously) zero away goals.
To advance, Liverpool need to:
- Win 2-0 or more
- End regulation time up 1-0 and then win in added time or penalties
- Win by 2 goals if Atleti score (so 3-1, 4-2, etc.)
As we addressed in our Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid leg 2 preview, this will not be an easy task for Jurgen Klopp’s men. What side will he choose? How will they do?
Good news: Klopp went with the squad we suggested in our preview. Now it’s down to the “how will they do” part.
So far, so good! Despite a shaky first 20 seconds, Liverpool have been by far the stronger side for all but about 5 minutes of the first half. A searing Gini Wijnaldum header levels the aggregate just before halftime.
Regulation ends 1-0. 30 minutes of added time coming. Liverpool are up on xG like 14.7 to .01. This is stupid.
Roberto Firmino put Liverpool up 2-0 (2-1 aggregate) in the opening minutes of added time.
Then the wheels came off.
Adrian’s howler of an error led to a Marcos Llorente death blow. Liverpool cratered. The holders suffer their first Anfield defeat since the Victorian era and are sent off 4-2 on aggregate.
Liverpool starting XI vs Atletico Madrid
Liverpool Player Ratings
Jurgen Klopp (8) –
Got the line-up selection right. Expect him to make changes early though if it’s not working. While everything IS working, Klopp subs out Ox in the 82nd for Milner. Not sure I agree with that one. Watch Milly net the game winner now. Shifts to a 4-2-3-1 with Salah up top in the final five minutes or so.
Can’t really fault him for this. The lads were the better side until Adrian’s boner.
Adrian (3) –
Not much to do in first half at all. In second half, clumsily deals with a Joao Felix strike but makes a great recovery to put Liverpool out of danger.
And Adrian gives a poor clearance in added time to fuck this all up for us.
Just can’t function right now. He’s the back-up. To paraphrase James Ingram, “Adrian did his best, but I guess his best wasn’t good enough.”
Trent Alexander-Arnold (8) –
Servicing and switching field well. On the ball A LOT. Creative in passing. Fast recovers. Whatever.
Virgil van Dijk (8) –
This is the VVD we know and love. Very organized. Snuffing out threats early. Best game in awhile. Whatever.
Joe Gomez (8) –
Speedy, heady interception in the 9th to stifle an attack. Seems a step ahead of Atleti. Great game. Whatever.
Andy Robertson (7) –
Actually more impressed with him defensively than offensively early on. Runs are good but not servicing as much. Headers the crossbar in the 67th that could’ve put Liverpool up. A strike a few minutes later gets deflected out. So yeah, turning it up in second half. A birthday goal maybe? Blasts one high in the 81st. That’s a hat trick of potential clinchers there. Needed him to put one of those away, unfortunately.
Jordan Henderson (7) –
Welcome back, captain. Will he really be fit enough to make the difference? Strong in the middle.
Gini Wijnaldum (9) –
Lively early, strong header in opening minutes. Does what Gini does though: makes a strong header against a whiny ass Spanish team at Anfield to level Liverpool on aggregate. Really strong and inspired game.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (8) –
Wise addition for this match. Looks MUCH faster than Atleti defenders. Almost gets Liverpool on the board first with a great low strike. So good getting Gini the ball on the opener. Pace is killing Atleti. Unfairly taken out. Ox was a threat. Should’ve stayed on.
Mo Salah (7) –
Went for a Chelsea-style goal in the 10th, nearly missing. Hard work nearly sets Mane up with the opener in the 34th. Starts strong in second half but could’ve opened body more or found a crashing option on an early chance. Vintage Salah dribble weaving in the box in the 87th almost gets Liverpool the clincher. Needed that extra bit of quality unfortunately in the first 90.
Sadio Mane (6.5) –
Expecting a huge game from Sadio. Active but not taking advantage of opportunities / in right spot. Misses golden chance from good feed by Salah in 34th. Goes for a bicycle game winner in the 85th that sails high. Goes for the bike in the 89th again. Needed that extra bit of quality unfortunately in the first 90.
Roberto Firmino (7.5) –
Acting more defensively early on than on front foot. However, almost volleys one in the 36th. Oblak having himself a game. Bobby much more on the ball and solid in link up during second half.
Bobby gets a deserved goal — his first at Anfield in almost a year — to give Liverpool the aggregate lead. For a minute.
James Milner (7) – On in the 82nd for Ox. Determined. Winning balls. Making things happen. Doing Milly things. No complaints.
Takumi Minamino () – Came on late. Didn’t score.
Divock Origi () – Came on late. Didn’t score.
Fabinho () – Came on late. Didn’t score.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Gini Wijnaldum came up big at Anfield again. Boss performance.