As the styles will not change, here is what awaits Atletico Madrid
Never give up at all, Atletico Madrid never give up. The almighty Liverpool arrived at the Estadio Wanda Metropolitano as the defending European champions, the best team in the Premier League and with a forward line of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. Yet, they left with nothing because of Los Rojiblancos’ rear-guard; they were defeated without even a shot on goal, let alone a goal itself.
Atletico were again what they have been in the past: a team, perhaps even a wall. What brought their successes of the past was again in evidence against Liverpool. It was a selection of players committed to the cause. All for one. Because that one, the one that the English team looked dead in the eyes, is the essence of Diego Simeone, the one who instils this in his players, the one who is permanently in the hearts of Los Rojiblancos’ supporters. If he has to die to understand the sport, he’d die; if he has to fall, he’ll fall; but it is always done with the DNA of the club.
Atletico, however, are still lacking in certain positions. They need a midfielder who can put their foot on the ball and manage difficult periods of a match, someone who can slow things down. On Tuesday, they were penned in, many times, and whilst they didn’t concede they struggled to find a way out.
The team selected, though, was the perfect functioning machine in defence. Felipe Augusto was outstanding, whilst Renan Lodi looked the player who shone in his first few matches with the club. Stefan Savic was disciplined and Sime Vrsaljko was reliable. The defenders defended, the midfielders ran, and the forwards pressed to exhaustion. That is what Simeone wants, and there can be no doubts as to whether he was happy on Tuesday evening. Atletico played in his image and didn’t pay any attention to their rival, even if it was the mighty Liverpool.
Whilst things went well at the Metropolitano, it’s difficult to deal with the attacking push of the Reds for a long time, and Anfield eagerly awaits the second leg. If Simeone’s approach is the same, which it will be, there will be 90 minutes of Liverpool pressure. Los Colchoneros are ready to suffer.
Like it or not, Simeone won’t change. These are his principles and he will go with them until the very end. The Argentine coach won the tactical battle against Jurgen Klopp in the first leg, and perhaps his magic will work again at Anfield. However, he will not vary his style, the style he trusts, yet despite people’s words, this isn’t a system without risks, in fact it is very much akin to playing with fire.
Liverpool will have all of the ball at Anfield, whereas the Spanish side will wait for their opportunity on the counter-attack. There are only two possible outcomes for the travelling team: a magic night or a complete disaster. What is clear is that Atletico will compete until the very last whistle at Anfield. They must remember: never give up.