Liverpool the perfect chance to salvage Atlético's Cholismo
Champions League, European Super Cup and Club World Cup winners, run-away leaders in the Premier League with 25 wins and a draw from 26 games… Liverpool have arrived in Madrid.
Tonight, 3,300 feverish Reds fans will be attendance at the Wanda Metropolitano. All of them will be at the service of Jurgen Klopp, the man at the Anfield helm for the past five years who burst onto the scene, in the era of violins and tiki-taka, with his frenetic brand of football that eventually led Liverpool to Champions League glory last season.
It cannot be denied that Liverpool are incredibly impressive. They will serve as a stern test for Cholismo – Diego Simeone’s dogged style of play that, today, has been called into the question for the first time after so many years.
Atlético’s journey under Simeone
Over those years, Atlético have enjoyed a constant presence in the Champions League; they’ve reached two finals and lost both by a hair’s breadth; they’ve won a league title while up against the Barça of Messi and Madrid of Cristiano; they have built a new stadium which has already hosted a European final and will now receive the current prodigy that is Liverpool. It has taken years of struggle for Atlético to get to where they are, but they now appear to have fallen short before completing their journey.
And that is the great disappointment with Cholismo: its insistence on a rigid model when there has been money to bring in a prettier style of player. And in fact those types of players have arrived but have not fit in. Jurgen Klopp, meanwhile, comes with three such artists concentrated in his front line: Salah, Firmino and Mané.
But Atlético remains proud of its recent history, during which it has twice knocked the mighty Barcelona out of the Champions League. Doubts are hanging over Cholismo like never before, but Liverpool is one of the few stimuli that can help to prop it back up.
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