Liverpool beaten and bruised after Atletico bearpit saga

Their winless run would end, not in England, but in Madrid. The Liverpool story may have found a blemish here but is, in any event, far from finished. The red army have every possibility of overturning the 1-0 deficit suffered to Atletico Madrid in their first leg last 16-tie.

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“We started winning the game on the roundabout next to the stadium!” was how the comments of an excited Atletico coach, Diego Simeone went after the game. He called it the best atmosphere he’d seen in his time at the club. The Madrid club certainly had theirs here. They became the first club in however long anyone cares to remember, to relegate what has been a belligerent Liverpool outfit, to defeat.

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The Saul Niguez fourth-minute goal that ended Liverpool’s almighty unbeaten run in all competitions (Image: Getty Images).

His opposite number’s frenetic energy was, however, not lost on Klopp – who would have been preoccupied with his side’s losing course on the night – but was able to make his own assessment of Simeone’s sporadic and largely colourful pitch-side antics. “I’m not sure he saw much of the game,” said Klopp, commenting on this. 

Saul Niguez was the man who, as fate would have it, put a sharp Liverpool to the sword. The Spain midfielder’s fourth-minute goal settled the tie and means The Reds have it all to do to in the return fixture in three weeks’ time, to hold on to the crown they clinched at the same venue, last June. Saul has scored 10 Champions League goals for Atletico, all of them openers.

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Liverpool will now lick their wounds, recuperate and revisit the drawing board ahead of Atletico Madrid’s second leg Champions League last-16 visit to Anfield in three weeks’time (Image: Getty Images).

An even scarier statistic: The Rojiblancos have never lost a game in which he has scored, and there have been 37 of those now. At the final whistle, the celebrations from the home side were wild. There was a lap of honour from Simeone and his players, and a “thank you” from the manager. 

Liverpool saw it differently. Klopp, in fact, believed the celebrations to be too premature, and so did Liverpool’s left-back defender, Andy Robertson. “They celebrated as if they’d won the tie,” opined Robertson. Klopp adding, “It’s not over yet. All Atletico fans that have a ticket… welcome to Anfield!”

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Far from soundly beaten but a defeat nonetheless. Liverpool will have an opportunity to overturn the one-goal deficit at Anfield and keep the Champions League title defence hopes alive (Image: Sourced).

As for this tie, it remains very much in the balance. The damage done here is certainly not irreparable for Klopp’s side, and anyone doubting their comeback capabilities clearly has too short a memory. Liverpool only need a glimmer of an opening. And their arsenal? Capable of effecting far more than just that.

They will need everyone at their very best in three weeks’ time though. That means the manager, the players, and the fans. And if this game was anything to go by, it is the power of an atmosphere. Over and out.