So holders Liverpool went crashing out of the European Champions League last night against those anti-football party poopers from the red & white side of Madrid.
Purists, Scousers, A-licence waving coaches and soccer pundits from as far as Manchester were despising the horrific time wasting, defensive display in the format of both BT Sports and Twitter. The outrage that somehow Liverpool, fantastic on the night with 36 shots to Atletico’s 10 with 63% ball possession should dare lose to such a team and their negative prehistoric style not seen since the days of Mourinho and Internazionale.
Reds Manager Jurgen Klopp said after the game “I don’t understand with the quality they have they could play proper football” as if Atletico beating them in two separate games wasn’t enough?
Michael Owen on Twitter stating “There’s nothing genius about putting 11 top class footballers behind the ball.”
So why for the life of me didn’t Liverpool, predicted by many as the GOAT in modern day football actually go out and beat this negative team of restricted talent?
After all… They are the best in the world? Aren’t they??
Now this is not a post to dig out Liverpool who I thought on the night were decent, if not completely firing at their very best in my opinion.. However when this tie was initially announced I hugely fancied Atletico in anticipating defense verses attack, Simeone verses Klopp… Anti-establishment verses Aristocrats…. I just feel every now and again these things are set up perfectly to remind us that defending is ‘still’ an art and teams that don’t respect it can sometimes come unstuck against it.
Take the first leg for example… People (the same as those mentioned above largely) moaned about the style Atletico played at the Wanda Metropolitano a fortnight ago but at that time Liverpool had WON 13 of their previous 14 matches drawing only to Shrewsbury because they couldn’t be bothered to treat them with respect and prior to that losing to Aston Villa with a side put out by a Manager who wasn’t even at the game because instead he was in Doha for a couple of glorified friendlies.
Prior to that Liverpool had not lost in 19 and had a record of only two defeats in 40… statistics that justified their ‘best team in the world’ tag and statistics that would justify a team of ‘top class’ and ‘quality’ footballers to approach them with caution.
In Madrid, the homeside gave Liverpool and Europe a lesson in how to defend against one of the best attacks the game has ever seen. A lesson they didn’t get enough respect for giving.
And as Liverpool faltered to failings against Watford and Chelsea in particular, their invincible tag no more, it was left to last night to restoring some parity after what looks to have been a recent wobble and for long periods they looked great, although for me still not back to their best.
Maybe through fitness or fatigue, maybe the one player they needed was Alisson or that little bit of luck to make it through the night? Perhaps Mane & Salah don’t get on as you never seem either happy with each others play? Or for all their attacking prowess perhaps they simply aren’t that good at defending?
Let’s face it you concede 3 goals at home in the Champions League and you deserve to lose… No excuses!
Since Liverpool lost the first leg in Madrid they have now conceded 11 goals in just five games having played some pretty mediocre opposition in between their Champions League last sixteen tie… Getting your defence right is the fundamental thing in football which allows you to play thereafter.. Liverpool fans, players, coaches all disregarding a side who defended better than them over two legs should be ashamed!!!
The result remember over two legs was 4-2 Atletico… The team who scored the most goals won… The team that won both ties won… It cannot be any clearer than that?
A last word for Diego Simeone who unlike what Michael Owen said ‘did’ mastermind the beautiful performance that ensured his side of Manchester City rejects and Tottenham departing defenders STOPPED the likes of Mane & Salah scoring in two games and 150 minutes of football.. Whilst he perhaps ‘is not’ for the English game which positions itself these days above the art of defending Simeone has masterminded many performances like this before and deserves to take credit where it is due…
A coach who has lived and worked during an era of the greatest Barcelona team ever to play in Spain with Messi, Neymar, Iniesta and Xavi winning league after league, a coach who has had to watch cross city rivals Real Madrid, Ronaldo and all dominate Europe winning the Champions League in five out of six seasons…. Now a coach that has seen off and stopped Liverpool, the world’s best in the opinions of some.
Simeone let us not forget during his time of ‘stopping’ great clubs from simply ‘getting their way’ has won the Spanish league (despite having to compete with the two aforementioned above) and Copa del Rey, he’s won the Supercopa de Espana having taken Atletico to two Champions League finals winning the Europa League twice and twice the Super Cup.. All during this time when Barcelona, then Real Madrid, then Manchester City, then Liverpool were supposedly the best teams in the world…
Simeone is simply a defensive tactician who might rub people up the wrong way, but in doing so he gets results with his side of talented footballers yes, but players willing to listen, learn and defend first and foremost. Something Liverpool haven’t done in recent weeks.