MX23RW : Thursday, July 9 02:11:40| >> :120:12096:12096:
Feb 18, 2020 at 8pm UK at Vicente Calderon Stadium
Attendance: 67,443
AtleticoAtletico Madrid
1-0
Liverpool
Niguez (4')
FT(HT: 1-0)

In Focus: Liverpool's Champions League opponents Atletico Madrid

In Focus: Liverpool's Champions League opponents Atletico Madrid
© Reuters
The sides meet in Madrid on Tuesday.

Liverpool face Atletico Madrid on Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Here, the PA news agency profiles the Spanish side ahead of the game at the Wanda Metropolitano.

How they got there

Liverpool are heading to the Wanda Metropolitano
Liverpool are heading to the Wanda Metropolitano (Martin Rickett/PA)

Atletico are mainstays of the Champions League and are competing in the competition for a seventh successive season, a period that includes final appearances in 2014 and 2016. They have not reached the quarter-finals, however, since 2017. This time they reached the knockout stages by finishing second to Juventus in Group D. They lost two games during the group programme, away at Juve and Bayer Leverkusen.

Domestic form

After finishing second in LaLiga last season, Atleti are currently running fourth this time around, behind arch-rivals Real Madrid, champions Barcelona and surprise package Getafe. In a tight battle for Champions League places, Sevilla, Villarreal, Valencia and Real Sociedad are within three points. Atletico also suffered a shock loss to third-tier Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey in January. They go into the Liverpool tie after a 2-2 draw at Valencia on Friday.

Past meetings

Diego Forlan stunned Liverpool in the Europa League semi-finals 10 years ago
Diego Forlan stunned Liverpool in the Europa League semi-finals 10 years ago (Peter Byrne/PA)

The sides met in the Champions League group stages in 2008, with both games finishing 1-1. They last faced each other in the Europa League semi-finals of 2010, with the Spanish side prevailing on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate draw. Former Manchester United striker Diego Forlan scored the crucial goal in extra time. Atleti have lost only one of their last 25 European games at home – to Chelsea in 2017 – but Liverpool, of course, have happy memories of the Wanda Metropolitano from last year's final.

Man at the helm

Diego Simeone enjoyed two spells as a player with Atletico Madrid
Diego Simeone enjoyed two spells as a player with Atletico Madrid (Adam Davy/PA)

Diego Simeone is now in his ninth season in charge of Atletico, showing strong commitment to a club he enjoyed two spells with as a player, despite plenty of reported interest from other clubs. The Argentinian may advocate a tough, defensive style of play – in keeping with his playing persona as a combative midfielder – but he is also celebrated for his tactical acumen. He has enjoyed some notable successes with two Europa League wins, one LaLiga title and one Copa del Rey, as well as those two Champions League final appearances. He previously won Argentinian league titles with Estudiantes and River Plate.

Ones to watch

Atletico star man Joao Felix is hoping to shake off injury
Atletico star man Joao Felix is hoping to shake off injury (Mike Egerton/PA)

To succeed, Liverpool are going to have to get past highly rated goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who is renowned for his shot stopping, while Ghanian holding midfielder Thomas Partey is also a strong obstacle. Saul Niguez, a dangerous box-to-box midfielder, will also need to be contained. Atletico, however, have injury concerns over some key attackers. Joao Felix, their £114million replacement for Antoine Griezmann, is doubtful after missing the last three games, while there is uncertainty over the fitness of former Chelsea striker Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata, who is on loan from Stamford Bridge. Costa has been out since November with a hernia problem but is now back in training. England right-back Kieran Trippier – whose last game for Tottenham was against Liverpool in last season's final – is likely to miss out with a groin injury.

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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
CLiverpool34302275264992
2Manchester CityMan City34223986345269
3Chelsea341861063461760
4Leicester CityLeicester34178964323259
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd331510856332355
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves34131384537852
7Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd34131293533251
8Arsenal34121485042850
9Burnley34147133846-849
10Tottenham HotspurSpurs33139115244848
11Everton33128134048-844
12Southampton33134164255-1343
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle341110133550-1543
14Crystal Palace34119143043-1342
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton34812143647-1136
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham3487194059-1931
17Watford34710173153-2231
18Aston Villa3376203662-2627
19Bournemouth3376203259-2727
20Norwich CityNorwich3456232663-3721

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