Liverpool will hope to overcome a first leg deficit when they welcome Atletico Madrid to Anfield in the Champions League Round of 16 second leg.
Just six more games remain for the UEFA Champions League quarter-finalists to be confirmed. The holders, Liverpool, will be one of the teams in action on Wednesday, looking to come back from a goal down in the aggregate scoreline when they play hosts to Atletico Madrid at Anfield.
Liverpool reached the Champions League knockout stages after topping Group E ahead of Napoli. The Reds have been one of the most fearsome teams in Europe this season, but have seen their form and momentum snap since the end of the winter break, having struggled to score goals on a consistent basis while also losing three of their last five games.
Atletico Madrid, on the other hand, ended as the runners-up in Group D behind Juventus to set up the Round of 16 date with Champions League holders Liverpool. Los Rojiblancos are not quite at their best as far as recent form is concerned, although Diego Simeone’s men have not been beaten in any of their last six games.
The first leg, played at the Wanda Metropolitano last month, ended in a 1-0 win for Atletico Madrid courtesy an early goal by Saul Niguez. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Jurgen Klopp has been handed a major injury boost ahead of the visit of Atletico Madrid for the Champions League Round of 16 second leg. Jordan Henderson has trained at the onset of the week and should make his return for Liverpool for the first time since sustaining a hamstring injury in the first leg.
With Henderson back in contention, Klopp will be bereft of the services of just three first-team players. One of these absentees, though, is a major miss, with Alisson Becker on the sidelines nursing a hip injury. Apart from Alisson, Liverpool will also be without long-term absentees Nathaniel Clyne and Xherdan Shaqiri.
Henderson should slot straight back into the starting lineup against Atletico Madrid. The Liverpool captain ought to have Fabinho and Georginio Wijnaldum for company in the middle of the park, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain dropping down to the bench.
The only other change to the side should see Andrew Robertson returning in the left-back slot after being rested in the Premier League clash with Bournemouth this past weekend. Robertson will join the other regulars Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk in the back four, with Adrian starting in goal in the absence of Alisson.
Upfront, the three-pronged attack will have Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane pairing up once again in the three-pronged attack, with Divock Origi and Takumi Minamino being backup options.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Unlike his counterpart in the Liverpool dugout, Diego Simeone has a full-strength squad to choose from ahead of the trip to Anfield for the latest Champions League contest. Thomas Lemar and Alvaro Morata are the latest players to have made themselves available after recovering from their respective injuries.
Morata should retain his place in the starting lineup after regaining fitness, pairing up with young Joao Felix in the strike partnership. Morata’s presence upfront means Angel Correa will start on the right side of the Atletico Madrid midfield once again.
Correa will provide the width and X-Factor from midfield, which will otherwise look to contain Liverpool while primarily looking to string together short passes when on the ball. As for the rest of the midfielders, Thomas Partey, Saul Niguez and Atletico Madrid captain Koke are certain starters.
At the back, Jose Maria Gimenez and Stefan Savic should form the central defensive partnership, while Kieran Trippier and Renan Lodi will form the full-back pairing. Finally, there is no looking past Jan Oblak in the Atletico Madrid goal.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Oblak; Trippier, Gimenez, Savic, Lodi; Correa, Saul, Thomas, Koke; Felix, Morata
- Liverpool have never lost against Atletico Madrid at Anfield in two previous European meetings, drawing 1-1 in the Champions League group stage in 2008-09 and winning 2-1 in the second leg of the Europa League semi-final in 2009-10.
- On each of the last two occasions Liverpool have lost away from home in the first leg of a Champions League knockout match, they have progressed to the next round; the Reds eliminated Chelsea and Barcelona in the semi-finals in 2006-07 and 2018-19.
- In major UEFA European competitions, seven of Atletico Madrid’s 13 away visits to England have ended in draws (W2 L4), with Los Colchoneros unbeaten in their last four matches in the country (W1 D3), since losing to Liverpool in April 2010.
- Atletico have progressed from four of their five previous Champions League knockout ties when winning the first leg, failing only in last season’s Round of 16 tie against Juventus (2-0 first leg, 0-3 second leg).
- Jurgen Klopp is yet to lose a home Champions League game with Liverpool (W11 D4); Klopp’s last two home defeats in the competition have been in the Round of 16 home leg matches with Borussia Dortmund in 2013-14 (1-2 vs Zenit St. Petersburg) and 2014-15 (0-3 vs Juventus).
Player to Watch
It is no secret that Jordan Henderson has enjoyed a truly fantastic 2019-20 campaign so far. Calls for the Englishman to be crowned the Premier League Player of the Year have only grown like wildfire, with the Liverpool captain’s case ironically solidifying during his spell on the sidelines.
With Henderson absent, Liverpool have not been quite as dominant in the middle of the park, with Fabinho often being overwhelmed. Now, with Henderson back in the side, there should be a definitive change in Liverpool’s output in midfield, with the captain’s performance holding the key against Atletico Madrid.
Liverpool 2-0 Atletico Madrid
Neither side has been extraordinary in recent weeks, with wins being hard to come by of late. However, it is also true that both Liverpool and Atletico Madrid bring out their best in crunch Champions League fixtures.
With a slender lead secured in the first leg, Atletico Madrid should play in typical fashion and look to frustrate the hosts by putting men behind the ball. Liverpool, though, have made a name from being the “mentality monsters” that they are and will look to score an early goal to get the tie back on level terms as soon as possible.
Should they be able to score that early goal, there will unlikely be any stopping the Reds from going through to the next round. The Hard Tackle reckons Liverpool will do just about enough, which is why we are going with a 2-0 win for Jurgen Klopp & co. to reach the Champions League quarter-finals.