Jurgen Klopp says Atletico Madrid are ‘a different animal’ and has expressed his ‘respect’ for Diego Simeone as Liverpool prepare to face the Spanish champions.
Liverpool travel to Spain’s capital to face Atletico tomorrow evening, looking to maintain their perfect start to the Champions League group stages at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Atletico are second in the group on four points from their two fixtures and will provide difficult opposition after being crowned La Liga champions in 2020/21.
The two teams met in the quarter-finals of the competition two seasons ago, with Atletico progressing following a dramatic second leg win at Anfield and Klopp memorably criticised Simeone’s style following the clash.
Klopp admits Atletico’s pragmatic and tenacious style is not one he admires, but says he has the utmost respect for Simeone and his side following the success of their system.
“After the second game I was angry and disappointed about a lot of things,” Klopp said at his pre-match press conference. “Life a bit as well as things can go wrong in the world at that moment. We played against a team full of world class players and they defended with all they have.
“Diego Simeone is doing everything right, he is the Spanish champion and he has been at Atletico for a long time. He keeps them on their toes and they fight for all their lives. I couldn’t respect it more.
“Do I like it? Not too much.
“But that’s because I like a different style of football. It just has to be successful and that is what Atletico is for sure. They have changed the system and brought some players back. They have done an impressive job with signings and look like a proper team. They could be the champions again.”
Klopp believes Atletico have changed since the previous meeting between the sides, but believes the Spanish champions are not weaker despite being a ‘different animal’ ahead of tomorrow’s meeting.
The German is hopeful his side can secure the victories needed to progress to the knockout round ahead of a Champions League double-header against Los Rojiblancos.
“Win both games against Atletico and it’s clear you will probably go through,” said Klopp.
“We lost both games the last time against them. I’m a positive person but I’m not that positive to think we have these games in our pockets.
“The last one we played was an outstanding match but we lost in one of the strangest games I’ve ever been involved in. Hopefully, we can learn from those games even though they have changed a lot since then.
“They have changed players and system so we face a different animal, but not a weaker one. The core are still together, and have been for a while, and they know how to win football games.”
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