Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool FC
Â Liverpool Odds AgainstÂ Atletico Madrid
The UEFA Champions League returns this week with several high-profile matchups. One of those is the reigning European champions Liverpool coming up against one of the premier defensive teams in the world in Atletico Madrid.
Liverpool returned to action in the Premier League this past weekend after a two-week winter break and earned a hard-fought 1-0 win away to NorwichÂ to stretch their winning run to 17 games and their unbeaten run this season to 26 games in the Premier League.
A Sadio Mane strike in the 78thÂ minute was enough for the league leaders to go 25 points clear of Manchester City and subsequently became the first club in Europe to already qualify for next seasonâ€™s Champions Leagueâ€¦ in February.
Liverpool’s defense led by the all-powerful Virgil Van Dijk continues to reach new heights with 10 clean sheets in their last 11 games with just one goal conceded in that span. The partnership of Van Dijk and Englishman Joe Gomez is already one of the best in Europe and has the potential to be the best in Europe for years to come.
In Liverpool’s next step in defending their European crown, they travel to Atletico MadridÂ in what is bound to be a highly competitive tie. Atletico has lost key players in recent years such as Antoine Griezmann, Rodri, and Lucas Hernandez as well asÂ losing stalwarts such as former captain Diego Godin, Filipe Luis, and Juanfran.
Liverpool Against a Competitive, but Hurting, Atletico Madrid
Theyâ€™ve remainedÂ competitive in La Liga but are ultimately miles behindÂ Real Madrid and Barcelona in a title race. They sit fourth in the league and are 12 points behind both Real Madrid and Barcelona. Despite the signings of Alvaro Morata and Joao Felix, they are missing GriezmannÂ desperatelyÂ with MadridÂ scoringÂ just 25 goals in 24 games. Only Athletic Bilbao have scored fewer goals (23) than Madrid in the top ten.
Their defensive excellence under head coach Diego Simeone has remained with his team conceding just 17Â goals in the league, only Real Madrid have conceded less (14) in the league.
Liverpool is playing Atletico at the best time possible. The Reds are in an unmatchedÂ territoryÂ with their winning streak andÂ dominanceÂ this season whereas Atletico has struggledÂ to be consistent this season and have won just once in their last five games.
Sportsbooks odds on Liverpool winning in Madrid open at +115, making them slight favorites. Odds on Atletico winning at home open at +230, according to sportsbooks. Odds on a tie going into the second leg at Anfield open at +250.
Â Can Liverpool Get to the Final for the Third Year in a Row?Â
It’s a question that the sportsbooks certainly agree with. Odds on Liverpool reaching the final for a third consecutive year open at +200, the second-best odds, only behind Manchester City. Liverpool also owns the joint-best odds to win the Champions League which opens at +400 along with Manchester City.Â
Health is a huge part of winning, especially when you enter the business portion of the season. Liverpoolâ€™s win over Norwich this past weekend was the first time this season they had a completely fully fit squad.Â
They’ve been plagued by injuries all season and to have everyone back fit in February where they pretty much have the league won (theyÂ can secure the Premier League with five wins in their remaining 12 games), they can fully focus on the Champions League and could potentially become the first English side to retain the Champions League trophy since guess whoâ€¦ Liverpool in 1977/78.Â