Liverpool get injury boost for Atletico Madrid Champions League showdown
Overcoming deficits in the Champions League has been a common occurrence for Liverpool over the last two seasons. The Reds needed an epic comeback to knockoff Barcelona last season in the Champions League semifinal second leg. They got the comeback needed to win 4-3 on aggregate. Even before the semifinal, Liverpool needed a dramatic 1-0 win versus Napoli on the final day the group stage to qualify for the knockout round.
Liverpool head into Wednesday night’s match at Anfield needing another epic performance as Atletico Madrid arrive on Merseyside. Los Colchoneros defeated Liverpool in the first leg in Madrid 1-0 thanks to a Saul Niguez first-half goal. The game’s lone strike came from a corner as Fabinho deflected the ball right into Saul’s path.
Now, the Reds must score at least two times without reply to reach the quarterfinals. The last time these sides met at Anfield was in the 2009-10 Europa League semifinal second leg. It was a game in which Liverpool won 1-0 in regulation but due to the aggregate score went to extra-time. There, Diego Forlan stunned Liverpool in the second half of extra-time with a goal.
Liverpool injury worries for Klopp
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp does have injuries to key players on Wednesday night. The big absence is Alisson Becker who misses the fixture through a muscle injury. The good news for Liverpool is back-up Adrian has shown himself to be capable in big games this season. Adrian helped Liverpool win the UEFA Super Cup earlier this season with his penalty shootout heroics. The back-up goalkeeper has played 11 times in the Premier League for the Reds and made a number of key saves.
Although Alisson will miss out on the match, Klopp will have captain Jordan Henderson back in the side. Liverpool’s recent dip in form with losses to Watford in the league and Chelsea in the FA Cup came with Henderson sidelined due to a hamstring injury. The captain’s importance was magnified in his absence and Henderson’s return will be welcomed by the rest of the squad.
Henderson has not played since going off in the second half of the first leg in Madrid. He should be nailed on for a spot in Liverpool’s midfield along with Fabinho and Georgino Wijnaldum.
Who will start for Liverpool?
Klopp should go with his tried and true team on Wednesday night minus Alisson. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, and Andy Robertson should be in defence. Robertson has shaken off an ankle issue that kept him out of the game against Bournemouth last Saturday. James Milner will be on the bench to back up the Scotsman.
Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah will be deployed in attack with the hope that the trio can breakdown Atletico Madrid’s defence. Los Colchoneros will put XI men behind the ball and when in position will use Alvaro Morata and/or Diego Costa to bully Gomez and Van Dijk.
Liverpool have a difficult task on their hands on Wednesday night. Recent history has shown they can overcome a first-leg loss in the Champions League knockout stages. Can they do it again versus one of the strongest defensive teams in Europe?