Liverpool welcome Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid to Anfield this Wednesday, and the Premier League leaders have to overturn a 1-0 deficit in the Champions League Round of 16 to progress to the quarter-finals.
Saul Niguez’s goal helped Atletico Madrid register a 1-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. But they have a tougher task in store at Anfield, where the Reds have not lost this entire season in all competitions, and have drawn just two games.
Let’s take a look at the three key battles in the game between Liverpool and Atletico Madrid:
Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid – 3 Key Battles
#1 Sadio Mane vs Kieran Trippier
Sadio Mane put on a fantastic performance in Liverpool’s last game against Bournemouth, putting an end to the Reds’ two-game losing run in all competitions.
Mane set up one and scored the second to help Liverpool pick up the three points and return to winning ways.
The Senegalese international will be up against former Tottenham right-back Kieran Trippier, who will most likely start for Atletico.
Trippier likes going forward, but will have to face the threat of Mane, as well as Liverpool left-back Andrew Robertson, if the Scot is fit to play.
#2 Joao Felix vs Joe Gomez
A lot was expected of Portuguese hotshot Joao Felix when he was signed by Atletico at the start of the season. But, it hasn’t quite gone as well as expected.
The 20-year-old has scored 6 and made 2 assists in 27 appearances in all competitions this season, a far cry from the 20 he scored last season for Benfica. The transition, however, was always going to be difficult and he is adapting well.
But, Felix enters this crucial game against Liverpool in form, having scored against Sevilla this past weekend, where he looked lively.
If Felix is fit – as he was taken off over the weekend due to an issue with his calf – he could cause Liverpool and their central defender, Joe Gomez, problems with his pace, direct running, and dribbling.
A good performance against Liverpool could kickstart Felix’s Atleti career after an inconsistent season so far.
#3 Jordan Henderson vs Saul Niguez
Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson has missed five games due to a hamstring injury, but the 29-year-old could return to the team against Atletico Madrid.
The Reds have sorely missed their leader, who has been a driving force for them this season. His energy, leadership, and passing will be very important against a tough-to-beat Atletico Madrid side.
Henderson will have a feisty battle with Atleti’s Saul, who scored the only goal of the first leg of this tie. This battle could very well decide the pattern of the game as the midfield stranglehold will be key.