Diego Simeone’s magic returns as Atlético Madrid shock Liverpool

Saul Niguez, Atletico Madrid (Photo by Pablo Morano/MB Media/Getty Images)
Saul Niguez, Atletico Madrid (Photo by Pablo Morano/MB Media/Getty Images) /

The job is far from done, but Diego Simeone’s Atlético Madrid put on a masterclass in defending by holding world champion Liverpool without a shot on target in a 1-0 win at the Wanda Metropolitano…

The scene was set for a magical night in the Spanish capital. For the first time since their historic triumph in last year’s Champions League Final, English champions-elect Liverpool returned to the Wanda Metropolitano in a battle against El Cholo Simeone’s inspired Atlético side.

After Saúl Ñíguez pounced on an early set-piece to put the hosts in front, the arena roared to life as belief that Atleti could pull off a miraculous upset-filled the atmosphere.

From there, Los Rojiblancos defended with heart and passion, and were full value for the 1-0 result on the day, although they had a couple opportunities to strengthen their advantage in the second half. For the first time since October 2018, Liverpool were held without a shot on target.

It was a vintage Simeone performance; they grabbed an early goal from a set piece, frustrated the opposition, and grinded out a 1-0 win against a superior opponent, much like the team’s golden era from 2014-2016.

All the while, the Argentine was conducting the crowd and stirring up belief, although ironically, it was a rather surprised Jürgen Klopp who received a yellow on the night.

Atleti are no stranger to playing spoiler on European nights. This matchup is quickly taking on the feel of their 2016 quarterfinal victory against reigning treble winners Barcelona, who seemed invincible only to be taken down by Los Colchoneros in route to their second final.

The tie is far from over, however. Heading to Anfield, scoring an away goal will be absolutely crucial to potentially progressing and denying Liverpool a third consecutive final appearance.

Holding the Reds without an away goal was crucial, but there is more work to be done, and the tie is only at half-time.

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However, this was a magical night in Madrid after snapping Liverpool’s 14-match unbeaten run. Moreover, perhaps it could be an evening that signals another deep European run if Atleti can finish off one of the biggest upsets in recent Champions League history in three weeks in England.