Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has warned Atletico Madrid they’re ready to bounce back in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie. The Reds lost 1-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Tuesday night. Saul Niguez’s goal was the difference between the sides as the Premier League leaders struggled to get going in Madrid.
Atletico’s players, like they have been doing under Diego Simeone for years, were exaggerating contact and demanding bookings after Liverpool challenges.
Liverpool boss Klopp was agitated after the defeat, warning Atletico they’re in for a battle in the second leg on March 11.
Klopp told BT Sport: “It was not exactly what should happen but it happened. It was the fight we expected and the atmosphere we expected but I love so many parts of our game. It is only 1-0 down at half time and the second half we play out our stadium.
“We lacked in the final third. They defended with all they had – their defending in the box was incredible. When you are 1-0 down with a team like this who only want this kind of result – 0-0 would have been good for them.
“Welcome to Anfield. It is not over yet.”
Liverpool star Sadio Mane was substituted at half time after picking up a booking.
The forward was shown a yellow after catching Sime Vrsaljko with a stray arm.
And Klopp claimed Atletico’s players were targeting Mane.
Klopp added: “He [Sadio Mane] was targeted. It was clear. They wanted to make sure he got a yellow card.
“It is only half time but you need to be really strong as a referee in this atmosphere. Already in the first 30 minutes three of their players went to the ground I don’t know what for. Nobody to blame.”
Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson aimed a subtle dig at Atletico’s stars after the defeat, insisting Simeone’s men were overdramatising every challenge.
He told BT Sport: “The corner just ricocheted, it was tight but onside. We gave them the best possible start and that gets the fans behind them and then they start falling over and getting under the skin a bit.
“We put in a decent performance and we know we can be better. We’ve got a second leg to put it right.
“They celebrated as if they won the tie after the game. They are coming to Anfield and we know our fans will be there.”
Virgil van Dijk echoed Robertson’s thoughts, insisting Liverpool will be ready to bounce back in the second leg.
He added: “We conceded the goal from the corner, first chance for them, not even a chance. Bit of luck.
“The message at half time was to keep playing. We had the ball most of the game but unfortunately could not create massive opportunities. We still have another 90 minutes to set it right.
“It is the way they play. It is a bit of the Spanish football as well and you have to adapt but we knew it and I feel we handled it pretty well.”
Liverpool will now turn their attention to the Premier League, with the Reds hosting West Ham on Monday evening.