So, finally the big night is here at Anfield.
Tonight, it is one of those nights where Liverpool need a win to qualify for the Quarters of the Champions League.
We all know about those amazing European nights at Anfield & tonight won’t be an exception.
Atletico have a 1 goal advantage, they won the first leg at their home and actually completely stopped Liverpool brilliantly with their defensive prowess.
Now, it is a different ball game, because now they play at ANFIELD.
Anfield, is no ordinary stadium neither does it have a capacity equaling 100k or so, but what it does have is a soul of its own, identity of its own and the power that lifts you up.
It’s the energy & the aura which it gives out down the ages of history, and now with all the down-talks by Simeone & his team towards Anfield, well they will witness it firsthand to what they are taking so lightly.
Many have done that, and they have received a good beating, yet many don’t learn.
Henderson’s back for Liverpool, and an overview of the match..
Jurgen Klopp was handed a huge boost with Henderson making it in time, fit to start tonight & lead his team out the tunnel, Liverpool have been missing their captain’s driving force, energy & leadership.
Robertson is back to full fitness after being left out against Bournemouth, and he was present at pre-match conference with Klopp.
Keita is fully fit too & only Alisson is the only vital player to be missing for Klopp, which means once again Adrian will take the reign of protecting Liverpool’s goal, the last time he did that in a European Cup, he saved the penalty & Liverpool won the Super Cup against Chelsea.
This game is as difficult as any for the reds because it’s not against an attacking team like we see because if it is about attack vs attack- Klopp’s redmen win it with ease unless, they’re in a very bad slum (which they were in, recently).
Atletico Madrid is a team which is known for one thing, and the only thing they have been consistent for 7-8 years and no one comes close to them when it comes to playing conservative, deep & defensive yet effective football.
They are the masters of low blocks & 4-4-2 system with the ability to counter & direct balls, always compact, resolute & in shape.
Diego Simeone has made a very rugged oil machine of a desert which never stops working. Always composed & so patient.
To topple his side, you need to bring your A-game and blitz them non-stop, and to come up with brilliance, think outside the box & take them by surprise.
The fact that they know they have something to protect, they will be more resolute, the focus will be to upset the crowd by any means necessary, they are an extremely physical side & will play dirty.
The first 20 minutes, will be about absorbing the reds pressure & slowly built their own game to grind the crowd & Liverpool down to their liking just what they did at Wanda.
Jurgen Klopp probably knows that, the redmen need to move the ball quick & swift to make them lose their shape, because they will defend very deep & the reds will have to force an error out of them.
Liverpool, in every way is a team which can do it with ease, we have seen it & we know it.
Even after being in a slum, their record & stats suggest them still to be the best in the world, without any doubts.
Predicting lineups- This is Anfield..
Liverpool play at Anfield, the lads having won 3 trophies already (International Treble; Champions League, Super Cup, Club World Cup) have now been allowed to touch the sign board of Anfield while come out the tunnel of Anfield.
The record at Anfield, speaks for itself, teams lose matches before they even set foot onto the field.
There’s something about Anfield, especially in big matches, that the minds & body cannot comprehend, contemplate to understand or explain, the feeling is beyond anything but emotional & you just want to let it take you in, opponents feel the same.
Anfield has a habit down the times of its roots & history to succumb the opponents into pressure, who become lightheaded & lose their focus, they forget to play football & the reds become super humans who keep delivering punches, there’s a reason why Arsene Wenger, Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Ancelloti & many others speak so highly of & love it more than any other stadium.
Legends of the game, have talked about the honour of playing at Anfield and the feeling of it being unexplainable.
But it’s about tonight, Diego Simeone & his team are yet to witness it & surely Anfield will show them.
The KOP is ready, we are ready but is Atletico ready to what Anfield is ready to give them?
I’ll leave it at that, for now.
My lineup for tonight’s game which I predict Klopp would go with;
Defense: Adrian; TAA, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson.
Midfield: Fabinho, Gini, Henderson.
Attack: Salah, Firmino, Mane.
I know, there’s a lot of talks about Fabinho being rested since he’s out of form, I don’t buy that. I know he’s not up to his best but he’s not been abysmal & I really doubt Klopp would rest him in a game of such caliber, I don’t think this would be the case, especially when Henderson has arrived who compliments Fabinho well in covering him more than Gini.
We certainly need Henderson as an attacking outlet in this game more than an anchoring one.
Keita & Ox are ideal options for the second half and these two could be pivotal figures to change the game, if it’s not going our way.
4-3-3 against 4-4-2 of ours didn’t work well last time for us, since we were too slow & passive which allowed Atletico with an extra midfield to quickly close our gaps, they also had a protecting net to stop our counters from their corners. What’s the key for us here?
In my humble opinion, play with the swagger we have always played with, heavy metal football but with the touch of control & composure.
Blitz them now & then, flood in crosses & move the ball quickly, especially in the final third, pressure them like the reds are used to of doing & force errors out of them. Atletico hasn’t seen & played the red arrows & animals LFC is made into by Jurgen Klopp.
This game is going to be a cracker, it will have moments that will scare us to death but I think Liverpool will get the job done, Adrian has to produce a masterclass today.
Even though, I don’t see a clean sheet for some reason for the reds, I sense 1 goal by Atletico but I believe that would be consolation since Liverpool will score 3 or 4. Hopefully, we’ll get this win, I’m confident and Anfield is ready for another special night.