As the seconds, hours, days and weeks tick on for a football-less world, the last memory most of us will have to hold onto will be of Álvaro Morata slotting away Atlético Madrid’s third goal at Anfield — and the wild celebrations that followed in front of the travelling Atlético faithful.
If in several weeks’ time that remains the most recent match we watched, then what a memory to have. Fans across the world are flicking through the footballing archives to find entertainment during these weeks at home, Atlético fans would be happy to rewatch and rewatch the Anfield triumph. It was one of the biggest Rojiblanco results ever, and it’ll remain the most recent result for more than a while as we wait out the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the draw was made in Switzerland last December, few gave Atlético a chance to knock out the reigning European champions, let alone a team on course to break Premier League records. Jürgen Klopp said that Diego Simeone wouldn’t have been running around his living room at the result of the draw, and he was probably right.
But in the end, the Argentine was running around Anfield, celebrating three legitimate goals and Saúl’s near-winner in the final minute of normal time.
Atlético and Liverpool have long shared a friendship. They both wear red and white, of course. Fernando Torres created a unique link between the two clubs with his 2007 transfer. After that, it wasn’t uncommon to see Torres Liverpool shirts as you walked around Madrid.
Yet this Champions League tie added some spice to the friendship. It became something of a rivalry. The salty post-match comments from certain Liverpool players after the first leg, and the furious reaction of Liverpool fans to Atleti players celebrating that 1-0 win, led to some extra needles being thrown into the mix. It remained (and remains) an amiable rivalry, but now there was an added satisfaction associated with being able to pull off a victory.
That’s exactly what Los Colchoneros did in Madrid and on Merseyside, and this only provoked even more bitterness from Klopp and co. Atlético fans have been drinking it in for several days.
The entire footballing world realised this was a momentous result for Atlético, yet only Atleti fans can truly appreciate to what extent. This new-look team had been written off this season. So many think pieces had been produced labelling this the “end of an era.” The calls for Simeone to move on had been shouted loudly and clearly, usually from followers of other clubs.
But Los Rojiblancos kept fighting, and there they were on Wednesday night, defeating a team many said couldn’t be defeated.
Jose Mourinho. Pep Guardiola. Luis Enrique. And now Jürgen Klopp. They’ve all been knocked out of the Champions League at some point by an incredible Atlético team. So, Atleti fans, spend this time going through the archive to remember those wins over Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Barcelona. But take a short look back through the memory to that night in Anfield, too, for it was the most recent and most incredible match.