Football Features

Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool predictions: Five things we think will happen in Champions League showdown

By Muhammad Butt

Published: 21:34, 18 October 2021

It’s going to be a true heavyweight clash on Tuesday night as Atletico Madrid host Liverpool in the Champions League.

The Spanish title holders will face-off against the Reds in a rematch of their infamous round-of-16 tie from the 2019/20 edition of the tournament, where a stunning 2-3 win for Atleti at Anfield knocked then-European champions Liverpool out of the tournament.

The teams come into this match off the back of differing circumstances, with the Reds top of the group having picked up a huge win at the weekend. Meanwhile Atleti’s big domestic victory over Barcelona before the international break was the last time they saw action as their game at the weekend was postponed due to late arriving internationals.

What will happen when these two heavyweights clash? We’ve had a look and come up with some predictions.

Champions League winner odds with William Hill:

  • PSG – 7/2
  • Man City – 4/1
  • Bayern Munich – 4/1
  • Liverpool – 15/2
  • Chelsea – 8/1
  • Man Utd – 11/1

18+ only. Be Gamble Aware. All odds in this article are correct at 18:00, 18/10/2021.

1. Atleti’s starting XI will be…

Atleti have a few injury problems in defence, with starters Jose Gimenez and Stefan Savic out of the match (Savic is also suspended), so Simeone should draft in Felipe, which is no problem, and Geoffrey Kondogbia, which could be. The Frenchman is a midfielder by trade and could be a weak spot for Liverpool to target.

In midfield Koke will anchor behind Thomas Lemar and Rodrigo De Paul; this is a fearsome trio that has more than enough skill and dynamism to dominate the game. De Paul and Lemar, in particular, are in sensational form and could cause serious problems.

Out wide Yannick Carrasco and Kieran Trippier should get the nod, although keep an eye out for Marcos Llorente. The Spaniard was the match-winner with a brace at Anfield in 2020 and could start here, although if Simeone is smart he’ll save him for the second-half push Atleti will almost certainly need.

Leading the line should be Angel Correa and Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan is the main man for Atleti and finally scored away from home in Europe on matchday two. And while he doesn’t have the athleticism to get around the Liverpool defenders, if they give him even half a look at goal, he can punish them. Correa does have the athleticism, however, and will need looking after. Ditto Antoine Griezmann and Joao Felix, who are likely to come off the bench in the second-half as Simeone flexes the strength of his squad.

2. Liverpool’s starting XI will be…

With everyone fit, the Liverpool line-up basically picks itself. Nine of the 11 spots are guaranteed, with only one midfield role up for grabs and of course the choice of either Diogo Jota or Roberto Firmino to complete the trio up-top.

Given Liverpool have Manchester United at the weekend, and given Firmino usually does well against them, you can expect Jurgen Klopp to save him for Old Trafford and go with the pace and movement of Jota against that makeshift Atleti defence.

Similarly, the midfield spot will go to Curtis Jones. The youngster is brimming with the kind of energy and confidence that could be key to combating the Atleti players in the middle. He’s also the kind of kid who, if he has a chance to shoot, he will shoot, and shoot well. On nights like this one he is going to be someone with that kind of self-belief that just might be the difference.

3. A goalie-off

Both Atleti and Liverpool are two very good teams. It’s hard to explain just how good they are except that perhaps they have no real weaknesses in the starting XI. The story of their match-up in 2020 was one of goalkeepers, as Jan Oblak was magnificent in the Atleti goal while Adrian was really poor for the Atleti goals, playing a direct hand in one of them. It’s not an exaggeration to say if Alisson was playing, Liverpool would have won.

Well Alisson will be playing on Tuesday, but so will Jan Oblak. And it’s fairly clear even now that the game is going to feature two of the best goalkeepers on the planet going head-to-head in a duel of magnificence. Who comes out on top? That’s almost impossible to say but for sure the colossal presences of Oblak and Alisson and their saves, sweeping, catching and punching will define how this game goes.

4. Salah makes up for 2020

Mohamed Salah didn’t get a goal or assist across 210 minutes against Atleti in 2020. It was a poor showing from the Egyptian, one that he will be determined to make up for as they travel to Madrid on Tuesday.

Atleti are playing well enough now to dominate the game, they might even have enough about them with defensive injuries to keep Liverpool quiet on the whole. However what they do not have is the capacity to deal with Mohamed Salah right now.

The Egyptian is simply playing far too well in every phase of the game to be contained. And when you do somehow contain him he bursts out and wrecks your team with miracle goals. He didn’t score or assist against Atleti in 2020, but he will do in 2021, at least once.

You can get Mohamed Salah to score first against Atletico Madrid at 5/1 with William Hill.

5. Atleti save themselves (again)

Liverpool are in outrageous form right now, and even though Atleti are an impressive outfit the injuries in their defence will make Simeone a bit more cautious than normal. That caution will be all the Reds need and they should dominate proceedings in Madrid and take the lead, likely through Salah.

However Atleti’s midfield will see them remain a threat on the break and with the firepower Simeone can call off the bench, they will come away from their home game with at least a draw. Simeone’s stronger squad and extra days of rest will allow them to grow late in the game, just like they did against Milan.

Atleti probably won’t have enough to win (largely because Simeone’s conservative nature will see him satisfied with a draw) but they will get at least a point. Maybe Griezmann will deliver? Or could Felix finally have a huge moment? But they’ll find a way, and Klopp’s post-match interview will be a showcase of professional frustration.

You can get Atletico Madrid and Liverpool to draw at 23/10 with William Hill.


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