Liverpool began the knockout stages of the Champions League in less than impressive fashion, falling 1-0 to Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the Round of 16. The Reds went behind early to a set piece goal and never found a way back into the match, despite keeping the majority of the possession. Diego Simeone’s team still has to go to Anfield, so it’s far from over, but they didn’t manage to grab that all important away goal to ease their passage into the quarterfinals.
Manager Jürgen Klopp reacted after the game, claiming that he was proud of the team’s performance despite losing the game.
“Would I have loved to have got the throw-in?” Klopp asked of the controversial decision that lead to the only goal of the encounter. “Yes, but that’s how it is. It made our lives not easier tonight because Atletico were here to squeeze a result out of this game. Coming here and having 70 per cent possession is exceptional, our build-up was outstanding against a high-press team; it was, for me, next level, to be honest – it was the best we did for a long time.
“Counter-press was exceptional, the intensity of the game and how we could go was absolutely how it should be, put the opponent under pressure in the last third, but we were not clear enough. We had not enough clear-cut chances.”
Simeone’s team played their game exceptionally well, and the Reds couldn’t find the breakthrough they needed in the 90 minutes. Klopp wasn’t disappointed with his players’ effort over the course of the game.
“I am not disappointed about how we played, I saw much worse games in my life,” he said. “It was absolutely OK. How I said, we were not good enough in the last third, that’s it. I didn’t expect that we would have around about 70 per cent possession. I actually thought we would have a little bit more of the game, but we are not surprised.
“1-0 and you are not in the best moment, you try to defend it with all you have and that’s what they did. That’s absolutely OK, I respect that a lot, but of course it is only 1-0. We are not 5-0 down or whatever. We think we have a chance, we don’t think it will be easy, not at all because Atletico will probably have back Joao Felix, Diego Costa in different circumstances and we have to see who we can line up because a lot can happen until then because there are a lot of games. But, as long as we can get 11 players in a Liverpool shirt, we will try it with all we have.
“For all Atletico fans who can get a ticket for the game, welcome to Anfield.”