Atletico Madrid v Liverpool: Free-scoring Reds difficult to dismiss

Liverpool travel to defending La Liga champions Atletico Madrid on Tuesday night for a fascinating Champions League showdown. Mark O'Haire picks out his favourite fancy...

Defensive injury issues for Atletico

Atletico Madrid enjoyed a weekend off after the Spanish Superior Sports Council (CSD) upheld La Liga's request to postpone Los Colchoneros' contest with Granada due to the late arrival of the club's South American stars. Diego Simeone's side would have been without Rodrigo de Paul, Angel Correa and Luis Suarez had the game been given the go ahead.

Nevertheless, Atleti face an anxious wait on a number of key players who are still battling for full fitness. Defender Jose Gimenez returned home from Uruguay duty and is rated doubtful, whilst fellow centre-back Stefan Savic is also facing a race against time to be involved which could lead to Geoffrey Kondogbia being used as an emergency centre-half.

After opening their Champions League account with a dour goalless draw against Porto here at the Wanda Metropolitano, Los Colchoneros clinched a dramatic 97th minute winner from the penalty spot against Milan (2-1) on matchday two to sit second in Group B, three points ahead of Porto as we reach the midway point of the group phase.

Liverpool run riot at Watford

Roberto Firmino scored a hat-trick as rampant Liverpool ran out easy 5-0 winners on their return from the international break against Watford on Saturday at Vicarage Road. The Hornets had absolutely no answer to the Reds' fluid attacking play with Sadio Mane also striking, along with another brilliant individual goal from bang in-form Mohamed Salah.

The result means the Merseysiders have scored three goals or more in all six away games in all competitions so far this season, something no other English top-flight side has ever managed. And it could easily have been more than five as Jurgen Klopp's unbeaten outfit dominated proceedings as they returned to second spot in the Premier League.

After the game, Klopp hailed Salah as the best player in the world on current form but attention quickly turned towards a decisive week with a trip to Atletico and then Manchester United on the cards for Liverpool. The Reds are set to welcome Brazilian duo Alisson and Fabinho back into the fold in the only likely changes to the starting XI.

Reds fair favourites in Madrid

Atletico Madrid and Liverpool last crossed paths during the 2019/20 Champions League campaign with the Spaniards sealing a first-leg 1-0 victory before pinching a 3-2 extra-time triumph at Anfield to advance to the quarter-finals. The duo have met six times in this competition with the head-to-head match-ups equal after 90 minutes (W2-D2-L2).

Atletico Madrid 3.35 turned Barcelona over here in their most recent outing, although Los Colchoneros' have yet to really catch fire this term. Diego Simeone hasn't been able to find a system to suit his highly-talented attackers, and his much-heralded defence could be undermanned on Tuesday. The hosts may return to type here, opting for pragmatism.

Liverpool 2.32 impressed in 3-2 and 5-1 dismissals of Milan and Porto in this competition, and the Merseysiders arrive in Madrid in record-breaking away form. Jurgen Klopp's charges have scored 22 goals in six straight wins on the road this term, whilst also notching multiple goals in 10 of their overall 11 outings in 2021/22, making the guests difficult to dismiss

Take the Asian Handicap angle

Atletico Madrid are renowned for their defensive organisation, hard work and ability to drag opponents into a dog fight. Diego Simeone's style tends to lead towards low-scoring matches and the Spaniards have seen Under 2.5 Goals 1.81 collect in 24 of their previous 31 Champions League showdowns. Just three of those fixtures featured four or more goals.

Liverpool's approach should ensure a fascinating clash of styles as the Reds are likely to take a front-foot approach in Madrid. And the Reds should relish facing an understrength Atletico rearguard here, giving the Premier League side a great chance of extending their winning run in Group B. However, we'll take a slightly more cautious option at the Wanda.

Taking Liverpool 0 & -0.5 in the Asian Handicap market at 1.99 holds plenty of appeal. We'll lose only half of our stake should the game end all-square, and earn a full-stakes pay-out at evens if the Reds run out victorious.

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