Best odds: 47/20
On of the most interesting matches of the third round of the Champions League group stages will be played on Tuesday evening at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid, when Atletico welcome Liverpool. It’ll be a clash between two teams that know each other well from their double feature in the round of 16 in 2019-20, when the current La Liga champions progressed past the holders at the time by winning the first leg in Madrid and staging a brave turnaround at Anfield in extra time.
It can be said that Atletico completely took advantage of the financial issues and some questionable decisions at both Real Madrid and Barcelona last season and deservedly won the title in Spain. The joy was enlarged by the fact that it was none other than Luis Suarez, who was previously told he was no longer needed at Barcelona, that scored the goal that clinched the title.
This summer, Atletico brought back Antoine Griezmann from Barcelona as well, and with eight matches played in the Spanish top flight since the start of the season, they sit in fourth place with 17 points, the same tally as Real Madrid in second, Sevilla in third and Osasuna in fifth. Real Sociedad lead the way with 20, though they’ve already played nine games, but Atletico will have the perfect opportunity to overtake them when they meet at the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday.
In the Champions League, Atletico are second in Group B with four points, after drawing at home against 10-men FC Porto and beating (also 10-men) AC Milan in Italy.
Their last-six record in all competitions consists of that goalless draw against Porto, followed by another one against Athletic Bilbao, a 1-2 triumph away to Getafe, a 1-0 defeat away to Alaves, the 1-2 win in Milan, and a 2-0 triumph over Barcelona in Madrid before the international break. Their match against Granada, that was scheduled to take place straight after the break, was postponed as La Liga granted their request in light of South American players not returning in time to play.
Head coach Diego Simeone will not be able to count on defenders Stefan Savic (suspended and injured) and Jose Gimenez (adductor problem), and forward Matheus Cunha (muscle problems). Therefore, if he persists with three players in his back line, he is likely to withdraw Geoffrey Kondogbia from midfield, though the 28-year-old is in danger of missing the next match if booked.
Midfielder Marcos Llorente, who dealt Liverpool serious blows in that 2019-20 encounter, is a doubt following a hamstring injury, though reports suggest he is being prepared in training as if meant to play.
Suarez will likely relish the reunion with his former club, especially after he suffered defeat at their hands in the 2018-19 semifinal with Barcelona. Joao Felix and Griezmann should be by his side.
The Merseysiders have enjoyed a perfect start to the Champions League campaign so far, having beaten both Milan and Porto in the opening two rounds. They therefore top the group table with six points, ahead of Atletico, and they’ll certainly be motivated to try and increase the gap.
It hasn’t been too bad in the Premier League either. Jurgen Klopp’s team are currently second with 18 points from eight matches, behind Chelsea who top the table with 19. But Liverpool are the only team in the league not to have suffered defeat yet, which means they haven’t been beaten in any competition this season.
Unlike Atletico, Liverpool were unsuccessful in their attempt to have their match against Watford at the Vicarage on Saturday moved, but that certainly did not affect their performance. Their standard front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino were all on fire, supported by excellent performances across the team.
Liverpool’s last six matches in all competitions saw them beat Crystal Palace at home by 3-0, Norwich City away in the Carabao Cup by 0-3, play a thrilling 3-3 draw away to Brentford, thrash Porto in Portugal 1-5, draw 2-2 at home against Premier League champions Manchester City, before they put five unanswered goals past Watford at the Vicarage.
The consequence of the Premier League’s refusal to postpone the match meant goalkeeper Alisson Becker and midfielder Fabinho missed it, but both flew straight to Madrid to link up with the rest of the team there and are highly likely to start.
It’s hard to imagine Klopp sending out anything other than his best XI at the moment, which means Firmino should get the nod again ahead of Diogo Jota, with Mane and Salah attacking from the flanks. Jota returned from the international break with a minor knock and sat out the Watford match on the bench. Virgil van Dijk is set to command the back line, also consisting of Joel Matip, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.
This match should be a fiery affair in front of the loud stands of the Wanda Metropolitano. Both teams will be fired up after the clashes of 18 months ago, with Atletico aiming to repeat the feat and Liverpool eager to get revenge.
The visitors will seek to dominate possession as they always do, which Atleti shouldn’t mind too much given Simeone’s knack for setting up his team to absorb pressure with a rock-hard defence.
Anything is possible in a match like this, but a share of the spoils seems the likeliest outcome, and it’s Liverpool who would walk out the happier if it happens.
Best odds: 47/20
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!