Thursday, December 2, 2021

Prediction: Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid

Verdict: Home win

Best odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: Betfair

Liverpool and Atletico Madrid will surely spoil all football fans with another thrilling encounter when they face each other at Anfield on Wednesday evening, in the fourth round of the Champions League group stage.

Liverpool

The Merseysiders top the table in Group B of the competition with nine points from three matches, and though their place in the knockout stages isn’t yet mathematically guaranteed, it cannot be reasonably questioned. They started the campaign with a 3-2 win over AC Milan at home, then thrashed FC Porto away by 1-5, and beat Atletico in Madrid by 2-3 in the previous round.

Things are looking very good for Jurgen Klopp’s team domestically as well. They remain the only Premier League side without a single defeat, and after 10 rounds, they are second to Chelsea merely due to drawing four times. It’s still worth remembering that two of those draws came against Chelsea and defending champions Manchester City, so they can hardly be regarded as point-dropping matches.

Liverpool’s last six matches in all competitions involve a 2-2 home draw against Manchester City, a 0-5 thrashing of Watford away, the 2-3 win away to Atletico, a 0-5 thumping of arch-rivals Manchester United away, a 0-2 win over Championship side Preston North End in the Carabao Cup, and a rather disappointing 2-2 draw at home against Brighton and Hove Albion.

The Reds allowed the Seagulls to come back from two goals down in that match, played on Saturday, as Enock Mwepu and Leandro Trossard struck to equalize after Jordan Henderson and Sadio Mane scored for the 19-time English champions.

Team News

Klopp has been having problems with his midfield section lately. Naby Keita was substituted against Brighton with a hamstring injury, and the Guinean will be out for a while. The same goes for James Milner and Harvey Elliott.

However, Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho have both recovered from their calf and knee issues, respectively, and given the circumstances, they could both be named to start along with Henderson. At the back, newcomer Ibrahima Konate started a couple of matches recently, but this time Klopp could name Joel Matip to start alongside Virgil van Dijk.

The standard trio of Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah is likely to form the attacking line, though Diogo Jota will be hoping to be named in there as well.

Atletico Madrid

Unlike Liverpool, Atletico have a lot of work to do to secure a place in the knockout stages. At the moment, they are second in the group with four points, the same tally as Porto in third, while Milan at the bottom have none.  Atleti started with a 0-0 draw against Porto at home, before beating Milan in Italy and losing at home to Liverpool. Whatever happens at Anfield, they will need to produce good results against the other two teams in the group to book a place in the round of 16.

Over in Spain, the table looks unusual at first glance, neither Atletico, nor either of the two biggest clubs in the country, Real Madrid and Barcelona, top the table. It’s Real Sociedad instead, with 25 points from 12 matches. Real and Sevilla follow with 24 from 11, and then come Diego Simeone’s men with 22, also from 11 games played.

Atletico’s last-six run in all competitions includes the win over Milan, a 2-0 triumph at home over Barcelona, the defeat to Liverpool, a 2-2 draw at home against Sociedad, the same scoreline away to Levante, and a 3-0 win over Real Betis at the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday. Yannick Carrasco and Joao Felix both scored in that one, either side of an own goal by Betis defender German Pezzella.

Team News

Midfielder Marcos Llorente, Atletico’s hero from their last Anfield trip, hasn’t travelled with the squad. Neither has Geoffrey Kondogbia or winger Thomas Lemar, all through different injuries.

Felipe is likely to play at the back with Jose Gimenez and Mario Hermoso, even though the latter didn’t exactly cover himself in glory when the two teams met at the Wanda. Antoine Griezmann was sent off in that match as is therefore suspended for this one, which means Luis Suarez should start against his former club together with Felix or Correa.

Conclusion

Looking ahead at the match, there is a feeling that neither team would regret sharing the spoils too much. With that in mind, you might expect a slower contest with few chances or goals at either end, but there is a lot of recent history between these teams, and passion can often get the better of cool logic for both.

Inspired by the bouncing Kop, Liverpool will be motivated to seek further revenge for the humbling at the hands of Atletico in 2019-20, while the Rojiblancos will want to get Liverpool back for what happened at the Wanda last month. Suarez will probably want some personal revenge on his old club for the humiliation he suffered at Anfield with Barcelona in 2018-19 as well. There will be sparks flying all over the pitch.

“…in the history since Diego [Simeone] is there, they never played a friendly game, so we should not expect that,” Klopp said ahead of the match.

The contest could go either way, of course, but Liverpool do have more quality in their ranks, and it’s worth bearing in mind that a win here would see them qualify for the knockout stages with two matches to spare.

Verdict: Home win

Best odds: 4/6

Bookmaker: Betfair

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.

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