Talking Tactics: Klopp must show Simeone who's the boss
There are few managers better than Jurgen Klopp — but Diego Simeone may just be his nemesis.
The two coaches will come up against each other in Madrid tonight and the Liverpool boss will be aiming to end an unwanted record against his Argentine counterpart.
Atletico Madrid's manager has a 100% record against the German tactician, albeit in just two meetings between their respective sides.
As the Reds head to the Wanda Metropolitano this evening, we turn the spotlight on how they can secure a result in Spain.
There is no doubting the fact Mohamed Salah is in the form of his life — after all, the Egyptian has scored in all but one of his appearances this season.
The 29-year-old star has 11 goal contributions across his first eight Premier League games, as well as three strikes in his first two Champions League matches.
And Klopp believes Salah is currently the best player in the world.
Speaking after his side's 5-0 victory over Watford on Saturday, he said: "[He ranks] top. We all see it. Who is better at the moment than him?
"We don’t have to talk about what [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo have done for world football and how long they were really dominant. But in the moment, I think it’s clear there’s nobody better than him."
Liverpool's No11 will pose a huge threat to Atleti’s defence, with teams in LaLiga already finding space in behind left wing-back Yannick Carrasco this term.
In Atletico’s first Group B fixture, they were unable to muster the firepower to overcome Porto — the same side Liverpool thrashed 5-1.
Porto found success against Simeone’s outfit on the counter and Salah and Sadio Mane could have a devastating impact with a similar approach.
Despite having 56% of the possession in that game, which finished goalless, Atleti were outscored on expected goals (xG) by Porto (1.24 to 0.3) and will have been counting their lucky stars VAR controversially ruled out a winner for the Portuguese club.
Three at the back
Simeone’s side will be buoyed by Liverpool’s recent difficulties dispatching teams operating with three at the back.
In the 3-3 draw with Brentford in September, the Bees narrowly outscored Liverpool on xG by 2.72 to 2.61.
And in their match against Chelsea the previous month — prior to Reece James’ red card in stoppage time at the end of the first half — the Merseysiders found themselves largely on the back foot during the 1-1 draw.
To overcome this issue, the Reds must be a lot more clinical.
In the aforementioned league clashes, Liverpool had a total of 40 shots but still only came away with just two points across those games.
Due to the late return of their South American players from international duty, LaLiga agreed to postpone Atletico’s game with Granada on Sunday.
As a result, Los Rojiblancos have had a much longer rest ahead of this evening’s game.
Liverpool, by comparison, were forced to visit Watford in the early kick-off on Saturday afternoon — and had to play without Brazilian duo Alisson and Fabinho.
Klopp voiced his displeasure about the situation before they faced the Hornets.
He said: "Because we play at 12.30pm they [Alisson and Fabinho] had no chance. If we played tonight they would be here and we would give it a try.
"The broadcasters wanted us to play at 12.30pm. Thank you very much for your help again."
Last time out
The last time these two sides met will still haunt the Merseysiders.
Liverpool went into that 2019-20 Champions League last-16 match 1-0 down from the first leg.
And — despite Liverpool going 2-0 ahead — the men from Madrid levelled the tie in stoppage time before netting twice in extra-time to progress.
Much of the blame for that defeat was laid at the door of goalkeeper Adrian, who could have done better for two of the goals.
But Liverpool actually dominated proceedings — recording 34 shots to Atleti’s 10 and registering 71% possession.
With Alisson between the sticks tonight, a similar blueprint could see Klopp finally get the better of Simeone.
LiveScore’s live coverage of Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool kicks off with a pre-match show at 7.25pm. (Available to app users in Ireland only.)