Big Match Feature: Liverpool v Atletico

football03 November 2021 08:59
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Liverpool are five points clear in Group B following a dramatic win at Atlético de Madrid and a repeat at Anfield would secure their last-16 place. Catch the action live on SuperSport with live streaming on DStv.

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The Reds made a winning return to the Estadio Metropolitano, the venue for their 2019 UEFA Champions League final triumph, on Matchday 3 despite letting slip a two-goal lead.

Mohamed Salah (8) and Naby Keïta (13) gave the visitors the early advantage, but Atleti were level before the break thanks to Antoine Griezmann's double (20, 34). The Frenchman was sent off early in the second period, however, and Liverpool made their numerical advantage count when Salah scored from the spot 12 minutes from time.

The English club lead the way in Group B having won all three games, beating AC Milan 3-2 at home and Porto 5-1 away. Atleti are level with Porto on four points, winning 2-1 in Milan on Matchday 2 after being held 0-0 at home by the Portuguese side.

This is only the second time that Liverpool have won their opening three UEFA Champions League group games, the first being last season. They have never won their first four.

Atlético are one win short of 50 in the UEFA Champions League, group stage to final.


Atlético ended Liverpool's reign as UEFA Champions League holders in the 2019/20 round of 16, Saúl Ñíguez's fourth-minute goal the only one of the first leg in Madrid. Georginio Wijnaldum's 43rd-minute strike in the Anfield return sent the tie into extra time, where Roberto Firmino (94) gave Liverpool the aggregate advantage only for Marcos Llorente's double (97, 105+1) to put Atleti in control and Álvaro Morata to add late gloss in added time.

That was the teams' first meeting since the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League semi-finals, a tie Atlético won on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate draw. Diego Forlán got the only goal of the first game in Spain, Alberto Aquilani levelling the tie a minute before half-time in Liverpool. With no further goals the match also went to extra time, Yossi Benayoun putting Liverpool in front on aggregate in the 95th minute only for Forlán to supply the decisive moment seven minutes later.

Atlético went on to beat another English club, Fulham, in the final in Hamburg, Forlán getting both goals in a 2-1 win.

The sides met for the first time in the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League group stage with both games ending 1-1, Simão scoring in the 83rd minute at the Vicente Calderón after Robbie Keane had given Liverpool a 14th-minute lead. At Anfield, a Steven Gerrard penalty five minutes into added time earned the home side a point, Maxi Rodríguez having put Atlético in front in the 37th minute.

Liverpool went on to top Group D with 14 points and Atlético finished as runners-up on 12.



Liverpool are in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 14th time; they have only failed to progress to the last 16 or further three times.

This is Liverpool's fifth successive group campaign, all under Jürgen Klopp; runners-up to Real Madrid in the 2017/18 final, they claimed their sixth European Cup at the expense of Tottenham with a 2-0 victory in the 2018/19 final, goals from Salah and Divock Origi securing the trophy at Atlético's Metropolitano home.

Liverpool's last two UEFA Champions League campaigns have ended in defeat against clubs from Madrid. Dethroned by Atlético in the 2019/20 round of 16, they lost to Real Madrid in last season's quarter-finals (1-3 a, 0-0 h).

Klopp's side had finished first in Group D on 13 points, ahead of Atalanta, Ajax and Midtjylland, before beating Leipzig 2-0 in both legs of their round of 16 tie with both games played in Budapest.

Champions of England for the 19th time in 2019/20, their first league title since 1990, Liverpool finished third in the 2020/21 Premier League.

Liverpool have lost two of their last seven UEFA Champions League matches at Anfield (W4 D1).

Matchday 3 was only Liverpool's third win in their last 15 fixtures against Spanish clubs (D3 L9) – a sequence that also includes 3-1 losses under Klopp in the 2016 UEFA Europa League final to Sevilla and the 2018 UEFA Champions League final to Real Madrid.

The Merseysiders have won only six of their 20 games against Spanish visitors at Anfield (D8 L6), although they have been victorious in four of the last eight (D2 L2).


Champions of Spain for the 11th time in 2020/21, Atlético finished two points ahead of Real Madrid in the final Liga standings to give them their second league championship under Diego Simeone, who also guided them to the title in 2013/14.

This is Atlético's 12th UEFA Champions League group campaign, level with Valencia; only Barcelona and Real Madrid (both 26 participations) have featured more among Spanish sides.

All but two of Atleti's previous 11 group appearances have extended into the knockout stages; this is their ninth successive group campaign.

Last season, Simeone's side finished second in their section behind holders Bayern München, picking up nine points. They were the only side to deny Bayern victory in Group A, the 1-1 draw in Madrid on Matchday 5 ending the German club's record run of UEFA Champions League victories at 15.

Atlético then lost 1-0 against Chelsea in the first leg of their round of 16 tie, a game that was played in Bucharest, before a 2-0 defeat in London.

The Madrid club have reached the quarter-finals or better in five of their last eight UEFA Champions League campaigns – all under Simeone.

Matchday 2 was only Atlético's sixth win in their last 17 European matches (D4 L7).

Four of Atleti's last eight away European matches have ended in defeat (W3 D1).

The Rojiblancos have reached two UEFA Champions League and three UEFA Europa League finals in the last 12 seasons.

The victory at Liverpool in 2019/20 was one of just three wins for Atlético in 15 away games against English clubs, with five defeats. The Madrid side were unbeaten in five visits to England, however (W2 D3), before losing at Chelsea last season.



Mohamed Salah made his 100th appearance in UEFA club competition, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain his 50th, on Matchday 3.

Liverpool are unbeaten in 24 games in all competitions (W17 D7), stretching back to the 3-1 loss at Real Madrid in last season's UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg.

The Merseyside club are the last undefeated side in this season's Premier League (W6 D4), although they let slip a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at against Brighton at Anfield on Saturday. That was the 250th Premier League home match in which Liverpool had led by two goals, and only the sixth they failed to win.

The Reds have won only two of their five Premier League home games this season, drawing the other three.

Liverpool have recorded successive 5-0 away wins, at Watford on 16 October and Manchester United eight days later. That was only the second time Liverpool have recorded two successive league victories by five or more goals, and the first since April 1935.

Liverpool were also only the second team in English top-flight history to win consecutive away games by a margin of five or more goals without conceding themselves, after Manchester United in February-March 1960.

Liverpool have scored 45 goals in 15 games this season, including five in three of their last seven matches.

The Reds have scored two or more goals in 14 of their 15 games in all competitions this season, the exception the 11 Premier League draw against Chelsea at Anfield on 28 August.

Salah, who hit a hat-trick at United, had scored in ten successive Liverpool games, 14 goals in all, before drawing a blank at the weekend. He had found the net in the Reds' previous seven league games, and has struck in eight of his ten appearances in the competition this season. He is the Premier League's top scorer with ten goals, three more than any other player.*

Salah's goal at Norwich on 14 August made him the first player ever to score in the opening Premier League game five seasons in a row.

The win at Watford made Liverpool the first English top-flight team to score three or more goals in seven successive away games in all competitions, a run they have since stretched to nine matches.

Liverpool were 2-0 winners at second-tier Preston in the League Cup last 16 on 27 October, thanks to goals from Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi; the pair had also shared the goals in a 3-0 victory at Norwich in the previous round, the Japanese forward scoring either side of an Origi strike.

Jürgen Klopp's side will be at home to Leicester in the League Cup quarter-finals in the week beginning 20 December.

James Milner (hamstring) and Naby Keïta (shin) both picked up injuries at Manchester United; the former has not played since while Keita started on Saturday but was forced off midway through the first half with a hamstring injury of his own.

Fabinho has missed Liverpool's last three matches with a knee problem.

Thiago Alcántara has been out since picking up a calf injury in a 3-0 win at home to Crystal Palace on 18 September.

Caoimhin Kelleher has missed Liverpool's last four games due to illness.

Harvey Elliott is facing a lengthy lay-off after suffering a dislocated ankle in a 3-1 win at Leeds on 12 September.

Salah is on the 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or, with the winner to be announced on 29 November.


Héctor Herrera's next UEFA Champions League appearance will be his 50th, group stage to final.

Thomas Lemar made his 50th appearance in UEFA club competition on Matchday 3.

Atlético drew their first two Liga fixtures after Matchday 3 2-2, at home to Real Sociedad on 24 October and away to Levante four days later, before Sunday's 3-0 win at home to Real Betis.

Yannick Carrasco opened the scoring at the weekend, his first Atlético goal in ten games, while third to end a goalless run of 948 minutes for his club.

A Luis Suárez double helped Atleti come from two goals down to rescue a draw against La Real; Atlético have picked up eight points from losing positions in this season's Liga.

Atlético have conceded the opening goal in five of their last nine Liga matches.

However, Atleti twice let the lead slip to draw at Levante, Antoine Griezmann's first league goal in the seventh appearance of his second spell at the club giving them the lead.

Summer signing Matheus Cunha scored Atlético's second goal at Levante, his first for the club in his seventh match, all as a substitute.

Atlético have lost only one of their 11 league fixtures this season (W6 D4).

Diego Simeone's side have scored twice in nine of their 14 matches this season in all competitions, but Sunday was the first time they had managed three goals in a game.

Atleti conceded ten goals in their first ten league games, their worst total since shipping 11 in the first ten in 2012/13, although Sunday was their fourth clean sheet.

Lemar was replaced at half-time against Real Sociedad after suffering an injury to his right thigh and missed the draw at Levante and the weekend win.

Marcos Llorente suffered a thigh injury in a 2-0 win against Barcelona on 2 October and, though he came on as a late substitute against Liverpool on Matchday 3, has not played since after aggravating the problem.

Geoffrey Kondogbia, who was taken off at half-time on Matchday 3 before coming on as a substitute against Real Sociedad, has missed Atlético's last two matches with a groin injury.

Stefan Savic also picked up a thigh injury against Barcelona, returning to play 90 minutes at the weekend.

Suárez is on the 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or, with the winner to be announced on 29 November.