Who: Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid
When: Wednesday, March 11th @4:00pm ET
Line: Liverpool -182 | Draw +290 | Atleti +575
Liverpool pulled themselves out of their Premier League tailspin this weekend, defeating Bournemouth 2-1. Did it look good? Not always. But it should serve as a confidence building win as they head into their Champions League Round of 16 leg 1 match-up Atletico Madrid.
When last they met, Liverpool endured Atleti players falling down and doing this every time they were breathed on:
This match is going to be ugly and annoying.
Here’s the Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid preview.
Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid Preview
Yes, Liverpool got back to their winning ways on Saturday. No, it wasn’t pretty.
The lads are off and out of sync. The defense is too casual. The offense isn’t linking up crisply. The intensity is dialed down.
As I wrote in the Liverpool vs Bournemouth preview, the Reds are plagued by the following issues:
- A club that plays at their intensity level does not do well with idle time. It takes a bit to get back to that level of intensity.
- The lads got a little too full of themselves.
- They’re so far out in front in the Premier League, they’ve lost focus.
- Jordan Henderson.
- A combination of all the above.
Good news is Premier League Injuries has Hendo at 75% (at the time of writing) to return to the line-up vs Atleti. If he’s fit and ready to go, he’ll provide a jolt of intensity the squad has been lacking. The Injured Naby Keita is actually not listed as injured for this match. However, Alisson will be out. That is an enormous blow. How will Liverpool cope?
Will Klopp learn lessons from his leg 1 defeat?
When I wrote the leg 1 preview, I noted that the absolute worst case scenario for Liverpool would be letting in some cheesy goal early from a set piece and watch Atleti go to a 8-1-1 formation, park the bus, and hang on. That’s basically what happened.
Dbag Extraordinaire Diego Simeone altered his 4-4-2 to essentially a 6-2-2 after grabbing the lead. Every time Liverpool has faced since then has tried some variation of the 6 deep backline. And it’s working! Liverpool are out of sorts.
How can Klopp fix this?
First, he needs some more creative spark in the midfield. Klopp’s most trusted midfield of Jordan Henderson – Fabinho – and Gini Wijnaldum is super disruptive against attack-minded teams like FFP violating Manchester City. Against defensive nutjobs like Simeone, they don’t have the creative bonafides to breakdown that backline. Klopp (understandably) erred in that line-up selection for leg 1. He needs to shake it up at Anfield.
Fabinho has been in very poor form since returning from his ankle injury. Klopp should sit him and rollout a midfield with Hendo (if fit) as the #6 flanked by Gini and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
While Wijnaldum serves as a workhorse who can drop and cover when Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson make their booming runs, Klopp should also consider using Gini in a more advanced role this match. Wijnaldum thrives for country when in a more attacking role. He consistently shows up in big matches for Liverpool. Getting his extra physical presence and aerial capabilities into the box when TAA and Robbo are lobbing crosses could be a difference maker.
Finally, if Liverpool can’t crack the defense, Klopp needs to pull the trigger on subbing quicker than he sometimes does. If the score is still bagels by the 60 minute mark, getting The Injured Naby Keita or Takumi Minamino on as extra attackers will be must.
Ultimately, that’s the biggest wild card. Alisson has made so many big saves in big games for Liverpool you almost take it for granted.
Adrian played well between the sticks earlier in the season when filling in for Ali. He’s looked shakier the past week.
One of two things will happen: 1) the defense steps up their intensity to limit Atleti opportunities, or 2) Adrian fails to come up with that one big save that Ali usually does.
I’d be stupid to ignore Liverpool’s current run of form. It’s not good. Too many troubling signs. Anfield will bring it. Liverpool will give it their all. They’ll win the match 2-1 but fail to advance on away goals.