This is going to be an interesting one. Liverpool should be on top of the world. They are completely running away with the Premier League and are set to end 30 years of hurt waiting for a domestic title with a 25-point lead, and yet, not everything is rosy at Anfield.
They lost the first leg of this contest 1-0 in mid-February, fell spectacularly to Watford in a 3-0 disaster and were bested in the FA Cup by Chelsea. A win over Bournemouth gave some rehabilitation, but hardly saw them look like a team about to jog off into the sunset with the Premier League title.
Therefore, against Atletico Madrid, they come into this game as underdogs. There’s a goal to make up against a team used to battling it out with the very best in the La Liga, and one that consistently comes out amongst the best teams in one of the toughest leagues in the world.
Liverpool vs Atlético Madrid Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Atl. Madrid
Based on their last two games, we predict Atletico Madrid will be looking to grind out a draw, just as they have against Sevilla and Espanyol. However, Liverpool find themselves in a rare position of being able to give this game their all. The FIFA Club World Cup and FA Cup are both over and done with for them, and the domestic title is theirs for the taking. Liverpool often have to play a balancing act but here, we get to see them – at least in theory – firing on all cylinders. If that’s the case, then we think they can overcome these odds, just barely. Therefore, our scoreline prediction is 2-0 to Liverpool.
Our recommended tip: Liverpool win both halves
If our scoreline prediction is going to come true, then Liverpool really need to be all over this game. A bad half will likely give a team as skilled as Atletico Madrid all the edge they need to at least see this game through to extra time and possibly win via the away goals rule. Considering that, and that Liverpool are such a well-rounded team – they don’t tend to hit hard in one half and then fall back in the other – we think that a great long odds bet is for Liverpool to win both halves. If you’re interested, competitive 17/5 odds are available at 888Sport.
That first leg takes on extra significance when you consider that these two huge teams have only met on five occasions throughout their history. The earliest came in 2008 with a duo of draws in the 2008 Champions League. Atletico finally broke the stalemate with a 1-0 win in 2010, but got a 2-1 receipt a week later. However, Liverpool failed to get through via the away goals rule – something they need to be wary of this time around. Just as important to keep in mind is no more than a goal has ever seperated these two, meaning Liverpool will need to make history to break through to the quarter-finals.
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Players to watch: Sadio Mané & Álvaro Morata
Liverpool: Sadio Mané
There are a few players that Liverpool have been able to rely on consistently during the more difficult times in 2020. No one stands out more in that regard than Sadio Mané. He proved to be an absolute rock against Bournemouth, in a victory that was harder than many believe it should have been. Here, Liverpool won’t be able to make many mistakes and they’ll need someone like Mané to help steer their ship straight for 90+ minutes.
Atletico Madrid: Álvaro Morata
The top scorer for Atletico Madrid finally ended a 630-minute goalless drought with a penalty to draw with Sevilla. No doubt fans will be hoping that this was a turning point for the player, who failed to make an impact the last time they faced Liverpool. If rangy former Chelsea striker Morata can rediscover his confidence here, he may be the secret weapon they need to fightback against what looks likely to be a ferocious offensive strategy by Liverpool.