Atletico Madrid goes into Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 return game at Anfield believing it can dig out another of its traditionally intense and aggressive performances, despite not that much evidence over its La Liga games since the first leg.
There have been plenty of doubts aired this season about whether Atletico Madrid was capable of reproducing its past glories, but on Tuesday against an all-conquering Liverpool, Diego Simeone’s side returned to its roots.
Barcelona paid Atletico Madrid €15 million to have the first refusal on Saul Niguez, Jose Gimenez and three other academy players, with sources from both clubs denying the payment has anything to do with the Antoine Griezmann deal.
Atletico Madrid has taken a huge advantage in their heavyweight Champions League last-16 tie with Juventus, earning a 2-0 home win thanks to late goals from Uruguayan defenders Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin.
Unbeaten in the league with only six points dropped and 13 points clear at the top, Juventus has been utterly dominant in the Serie A this season and seems all but certain to win an eighth successive title.
Following up Zinedine Zidane’s treble Champions League success with Real Madrid was always going to be a difficult job for Julen Lopetegui, but having to do it without Cristiano Ronaldo is a monumental challenge.