Saul Niguez has spoken of his admiration for Liverpool’s work rate and ‘sacrifice’ as Atletico Madrid prepare to welcome Jurgen Klopp’s side in the last-16 of the Champions League.
Diego Simeone’s side face the European champions in the first leg of their knock-out stage meeting at the Wanda Metropolitano tonight, and the Spanish side are anticipating a difficult fixture against a Reds side renowned for their intensity.
Atletico midfielder Saul is well aware of the qualities of tonight’s opponents, believing the Merseyside club’s strength lies in their intense pressing, togetherness and hunting of possession as a unit.
Saul told the Guardian: “They have those ‘perros de presa’ [hunting dogs] in the middle who run, press. It’s not just running for the sake of running: they do things that aren’t normal and it looks disordered but it’s ordered, mechanised.
“One comes out here and you think: ‘That’s mad, why’s he there?’ But the other man knows and comes from here.
“Klopp said they play with their heart, but it’s planned too. One breaks out to press, wild, but they follow. It’s very hard to escape when they come at you like that.
“It’s incredible: they press like animals, because they know that even if they get turned there will be seven of them running like mad to get back.
“Liverpool are very complete, a great team in every area [but] they find it hardest when you’re deep because they’re very, very, very good in transition.
“I watched them against Norwich and if it wasn’t for Mané’s extraordinary control, they don’t win. They’ve won lots of games they could have drawn or lost, which tells you something about what they have inside.
“It’s not luck. It’s work, sacrifice, not giving up a single ball for lost.”