- Liverpool will travel to Madrid to face Atletico in the Champions League on Tuesday
- The two sides met in last season’s quarterfinals, where the Reds broke up of late
- After the game, Klopp said Atletico did not play ‘proper football’ in his interview
- Diego Simeone has refused to engage in a war of words with his rival boss
Diego Simeone has refused to comment on Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp’s joke that Atletico Madrid failed to play ‘proper football’ between the two sides in the Champions League last time.
In last season’s quarter-finals, Atlético Madrid won 1–0 at the Wanda Metropolitano before the Reds rolled the tie in the return leg, going 2–0 in extra time and losing 3–2. Enfield and 4-2 on aggregate.
After the game, Klopp said he made waves with his comments when he noted: ‘I don’t understand how he plays football with the quality he has. They could play proper football, but they stand deep and strike back.
Diego Simeone talks to the media ahead of his side’s game against Liverpool this week
Simeone (left) refused to draw on Jurgen Klopp’s comments about Atleti’s football style
Now, 19 months later, the sides are set to face off again, this time in the group stages, but when asked what he had to say about Klopp’s criticism last year, Simeone replied: ‘ Nothing’.
Meanwhile, Klopp was happy to elaborate on his comments from 2020 and insisted once again that he does not like the style of football Simeone’s teams play.
Speaking at his own press conference he said: ‘First and foremost I said after the second game [last season] That I was a little angry and frustrated about life, that things go wrong in the world and that we have to focus on football and then we played a team full of world class players who defended everyone we had.
‘Simeon is doing absolutely right, the Spanish champions, at Atletico for a very long time and a bunch of world class players, keep them on their toes, I respect what they do.
‘Do I like it? Not much but I like a different style of football. I don’t have to like it, it just has to be successful but in very tough times for football clubs, they have done an impressive job with the signings, have a proper team and I want to look like champions in LaLiga again.
‘What I said was certainly influenced by the mood I was in a year and a half ago.’
lvaro Morata hit the final nail in Liverpool’s coffin in extra time in last season’s quarter-finals
Elsewhere, Atletico Madrid boss Simeone has admitted his side is meeting a Liverpool squad, and is headed by an ‘extraordinary’ Mohamed Salah.
Klopp’s team looks even stronger this season, having scored three or more goals in all their six matches, found the net 33 times in 11 appearances and has so far failed to score in any match.
Salah himself has scored 10 goals in as many matches and has scored once in every match.
Returning to Wanda Metropolitano, the scene of their 2019 Champions League final win over Tottenham, will be their toughest task yet and Simeone knows very well what awaits the Spanish champions.
“I only care about Liverpool but Mohamed Salah is an extraordinary player, who has been playing at a great level with Liverpool and their national team over the years,” the Atletico coach said.
Marcos Llorente also scored for Atletico Madrid as Liverpool entered Anfield in March 2020
“Liverpool are going through a great period of football, they seem to have a different rhythm, and it’s a pleasure to see them play.”
‘They have no fear of leaving empty space behind. They press high, play a high line, have momentum.
‘(Virgil) Van Dijk has improved strength in the defence, which is important even for an attacking team like Liverpool, and brings in protection they didn’t have last year.
‘I don’t expect anything other than a team that makes things very difficult for us.
‘We need to match their intensity and then find our chances. We will try to find ways to hurt them.
‘Last time we faced Liverpool, we won the game at home even before we entered the stadium. I want it to be remembered.
Simone barks at his players from the touchline at Anfield during last year’s game