Atlético Madrid face a serious challenge Tuesday night, as Los Colchoneros’ Champions League campaign resumes against holders Liverpool.
Jürgen Klopp’s men won the Champions League at this very stadium eight months ago, and that triumph spurred the side to even more silverware. The Reds have since claimed a Super Cup and a Club World Cup, while the Premier League title could be wrapped up by the start of April.
Atlético have sputtered in recent weeks, with just one win from the past seven. Valencia fought back twice to secure a 2-2 draw against the mattress makers on Friday, and Atleti are in a dogfight to claim a place in LaLiga’s top four. It may not come down to the European Cup being the team’s only way into next season’s competition, but to even think about the possibility shows the depth of Atleti’s struggles.
Diego Costa is training fully and is expected to receive the medical all-clear soon, but João Félix has not recovered from illness in time. Groin injuries have ruled out Héctor Herrera and Kieran Trippier. By contrast, Liverpool’s core players are all healthy and expected to participate in the Spanish capital.
Possible XI Oblak; Arias, Felipe, Savić, Saúl; Thomas, Llorente, Koke, Vitolo; Vitolo, Correa.
Prediction 1-1. Atlético are built to stifle Liverpool — maybe not for 90 minutes, but for some length of time thanks to the team’s defensive structure and ability to play without the ball in a low block for large chunks of a match. That’s the only way Atleti will have a chance against this juggernaut, and Diego Simeone knows it. Liverpool have many weapons, though — and while I can see Atleti taking an early lead, the English champions-elect likely will find a way through at some point, thus taking an away goal back to Anfield next month. That would be a devastating development for the Rojiblancos.
My record on the season 18-15
Date Feb. 18, 2020
Location Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain
Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m. GMT, 3:00 p.m. EST, 12:00 p.m. PST
SB Nation opposition blog Liverpool Offside
Available TV/streaming Movistar Liga de Campeones (Spain), BT Sport 2 (United States), TNT, Univisión (United States), TeleClub Sport (Switzerland), beIN Sports HD 2 (Saudi Arabia), ESPN Play Sur (Uruguay), Esporte Interativo Plus (Brazil), PPTV Sport (China)