Champions League is back on the horizon. After putting the league away for just a little bit, the Reds travel to the scene of their victory last year - Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium to face Atletico Madrid in the first of the Round of 16 ties. It’s been a nice break from the group stages, and even from League football for a minute, so the return of the Champions League is a welcome one. Especially for Jordan Henderson, who always has his eyes on the next game - even after a nice little break like the ones they just had.
“I feel as though it was a good period for us to refresh for the final push of the season,” Henderson said to the Echo recently.
”We had a really good week leading up to the game in training, so I thought we felt good in the game. It was difficult conditions for both teams but overall we’ve got to be delighted with the three points.
”Will they have another winter break next season? I hope so.
”With the amount of games we play every year, to have a period where you can refresh the body and have a final push, especially with the are competitions that we are in, is important for a lot of teams to get that break. It has worked well so far and hopefully we can continue.
”You can’t stop, you never stop but I suppose it is more the mental side of things. We just keep training and keep ticking over, but it is just about staying refreshed mentally for the final push of the season.”
The winter break was definitely a new addition to this year’s Premier League, and although the FA tried to muck it up by scheduling the FA Cup replays during that time, the senior players have come back more rested and ready to push on for the rest of the season.
That started on Saturday against Norwich and continues on Tuesday against Atletico. Considering the last time the team were at that stadium turned out to be a pretty emotional affair, one would think it would be easy to get carried away with the nostalgia of it, but Henderson is adamant that won’t be the case.
“Yes, it will be but it is business as usual,” the midfielder continued.
”We will go there, put on a good performance and hopefully get the result we want. Hopefully it will be happy memories after the game.
”I’ve not [watched the final back] for a long time, you just move on, you know.
”There will be plenty of time to watch it back in the future, but for us it’s just about going forward, improving all the time and focusing on what is ahead not what has happened in the past.
“It will always be in the memory, it is a fantastic stadium but it is back to business. It will be a really tough test, they are a fantastic team so we have got to recover quickly and get ready for that one.”
Atletico Madrid are a tough team, but are facing their own injury crisis with talented young forward Joao Felix injured, as well as veteran Diego Costa fighting to find fitness for the match. With ten draws and four losses in La Liga as well, Atletico will be looking to make some kind of a statement against the reigning champions on their home turf. That their stadium belongs to them, and not us.
We can let them think that for a minute or two.