It’s been a long time since these two powerhouses squared off on the pitch. They first exchanged blows in the 2008/09 Champions League group stage at the Vicente Calderón, with the match being scintillating and yielding each team one goal. It was 1-1 again on Anfield, which showed the dominance of each team canceling the other squad’s strengths out.
They met again in the 2009/10 Europa League semi-finals and it was much of the same, as the two-legger ended 2-2, with Atleti winning on away goals. If history is any indicator, these two teams should be evenly matched. But does Atletico Madrid have enough defensive firepower on both sides of the pitch for a draw to occur?
On paper, the two squads couldn’t be having more different seasons if they tried. Liverpool, who breezed through their group with relative ease, are also 22 points ahead of second place in the Premier League. They have shown no signs of weakness, winning 73 out of a possible 75 points (damn you, Manchester United!). One could say that their success is due to continuity, as their only notable arrival was Takumi Minamino, the pacy left winger from Red Bull Salzburg.
Contrastingly, Atletico has undergone a roster overhaul of epic proportions. First, they unloaded notable names such as Antoine Griezmann, Lucas Hernández, and Rodri. Therefore, it’s understandable that they’ve had their fair share of ups and downs. 13 points behind the surging Read Madrid, they’ve held their own against stronger teams, but failed to execute when it mattered.
Of course, this makes perfect sense when you realize that integrating a player of João Félix’s caliber is a truly daunting task for any coach. Marcos Llorente, Mario Hermoso, and Kieran Trippier have all been touted as difference-makers in the backline, but have failed to live up to the gravity of their names and previous accomplishments.
So, what can we expect? A lot, actually. Despite Liverpool’s all-around dominance, it would be unfair to disregard Atleti’s chances completely. One thing to watch out for is the Reds’ habit of pulling off late-game goals throughout the season, something which Atletico’s defense might not allow. Then again, João Félix will definitely not be able to roam as much as he’d like to.
If you’re not sure about where to cast your bets, find reviews of online bookmakers on www.ProTipster.com and ensure that you’ll have a splendid gameday.