Player Ratings: Atletico Madrid 1-0 Liverpool (Far from the best day for the Reds)

“Sometimes you need those bad days, to help you appreciate the good ones.” –Unknown, but there is a chance it might be Michael Owen



We have all experienced our fair share of bad days. We have learnt that it is part and parcel of life – it happens in all walks of it, football included – and if you somehow still manage to fall in the optimistic camp despite what is going on in the world these days, you might even appreciate the saying above.


That’s how we would like to think after Liverpool slumped to a 1-0 defeat against Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the Round of 16.


After all, Reds fans have still got plenty of reasons to think that the future is bright: the league is by now almost a certainty; they are still in the FA Cup with a good a chance of winning as any other teams; and Klopp’s men are returning to Anfield with only a one goal deficit despite playing one of their worst games of the season.


Of course, there were many reasons to moan about as well: the corner which led to the goal came from a throw-in that was contentious; the Polish referee, whose only similarity with the iconic Italian referee Pierluigi Collina is his bald head, was pretty appalling at times; Diego Simeone’s antics as the conductor for the really raucous Los Rojiblancos crowd were anything but you would describe as classy; and the Atletico players were going down time and time again after – as quoted by Klopp – a mere Sadio’s Mane deep breath.


But it’s not the end of the world, far from it in fact, and we are all well aware of what Anfield is capable of.


Atletico will be aware too.


It was a loss, but a loss that perhaps serves as a timely reminder for fans that none of the previous victories came easy, and that the unbeaten streak we are enjoying is not of a FIFA career mode, but an accumulation of literal blood, sweat and tears which should not be taken for granted – while we should just appreciate these occasional bad days and enjoy every single moment as we march on.


After all, it sure does make it easier when we have had many more good days.


Alisson Becker: 7/10

Conceded a goal which he could do little about, and in truth had nothing much to do thereafter. It is unlikely he will be any busier in the second leg, considering the way Simeone’s side will set up to defend the advantage.


Trent Alexander-Arnold: 6/10

The right-back endured one of his poorer games, often finding himself in uncomfortable positions thanks to the opposing full-back Renan Lodi, whose forward runs gave Alexander-Arnold an extra threat to nullify. The young Scouser first two deliveries in the game were uncharacteristic to say the least, perhaps setting the tone for the rest of the game.

Andy Robertson: 7/10

Robertson was one of the brighter sparks of the team when going forward, his adventurous forays and willingness to take on risk created the few breakthroughs the Reds enjoyed. The Scot was solid at the back too, defending superbly especially on one occasion – acrobatically turning the ball away for a corner after a superb cross from Lodi, preventing a golden opportunity.


Joe Gomez: 7/10

Had to cover Alexander-Arnold on several occasions, played a couple of stray passes but did largely alright to keep the Atletico forwards quiet for most parts of the game.


Virgil van Dijk: 7/10

Looked human for once, it’s fair to say van Dijk was not at his composed best against Simeone’s side. Credit has to be given to Alvaro Morata and Angel Correa, who never gave the Dutch giant a moment’s peace with their constant harrying.


Gini Wijnaldum: 6/10

A couple of nice touches to turn away from trouble, the Dutch midfielder failed to really stamp his influence on the game. He will be disappointed with his display, and will look to come up with a huge performance at Anfield just like he did against Barcelona last season.


Jordan Henderson: 7/10

Kept the ball well, but failed to provide the cutting edge we have seen from the captain in recent months. There was a lack of creativity in the Reds midfield as they struggle against the two defensive walls of Atletico, and Henderson was partly culpable.


Fabinho: 7/10

Broke up attacks after attacks in typical Fabinho style, the Brazilian was left frustrated by the referee after being penalized on numerous occasions despite seemingly legitimate challenges. A good game overall, but the team will require him to contribute more going forward in the return leg.


Sadio Mane: 6/10

Kept very quiet by Sime Vrsaljko, who in truth won his duel against the Senegalese, despite going down too easily on more than one occasion. Mane was hauled off at half-time after receiving a booking, as Klopp knows that he will be key to a Liverpool comeback in three weeks. The Croat full-back might have won the initial battle, but we suspect it’s Mane who will have the last laugh.


Roberto Firmino: 6/10

The two defensive walls that Simeone deployed clearly worked in frustrating the Reds, with Firmino largely anonymous during the game. The Brazilian had to drop deeper than usual to receive the ball, which resulted in him having a significantly lesser impact in the final third.


Mo Salah: 6/10

None of the Reds forward trident covered themselves in glory today, with the Egyptian King not an exception. The best opportunity for Liverpool fell to him, and he saw his left foot shot deflected over the bar. A much, much bigger performance will be required from Salah in the return leg.


Substitutes


Divock Origi: 7/10

Looked sharp when he came on, displaying neat touches and flicks – but ultimately failed to make a real impact on the game. The Belgian still looks like a useful option off the bench, with his presence and pace providing another weapon for Klopp.


Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: 6/10

Showed the determination and spirit that he is known for, but was left with too little time to make an impact. Was at times guilty of being a little clumsy in possession too.


James Milner: 5/10

Came on for the injured Henderson in the 80th minute, where the game was scrappy and chances were at a premium – could do nothing much really.