Diego Simeone proved last night why he is by far and away the highest paid manager in world football.
Many call his style unattractive but after nine years at the club his blueprint is etched into the brains of fans and players alike.
The fact Atletico Madrid stifled Liverpool last night and Jan Oblak didn’t even have to make a save shows, while Klopp is the king of ‘heavy metal football’, Simeone is definitely the master of the dark arts.
The fiery Argentinian had the crowd whipped into a frenzy all game, creating an atmosphere Anfield would have been proud of.
The 49-year-old was charging up and down his technical area (and beyond) like he had been hooked up to the mains at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.
Every time the cameras were on him he would be barking at his players, gestating to them like they only spoke in sign language.
His antics were contagious for both his side and the crowd while his tactics frustrated Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp, who got himself booked for his protests at Atletico’s brilliantly cynical ways.
Virgil van Dijk said the Atletico players were trying to ‘wind Liverpool up a little bit’ and it undeniably worked.
From play-acting to time-wasting, Simeone appears to have written the sh*thousing manual and has his players reciting it minute by minute, game by game.
Liverpool’s players looked rattled throughout and the Dutch defender was one of many who appeared to have an ‘off day.’
An off day suggests it was Liverpool’s players not playing their best which affected the score, when it was in fact the Atletico players, regimented by their commander, who had an ‘on day.’
Simeone’s old guard of Gabi, Diego Godin, Juanfran, Antoine Griezmann and Filipe Luis all left the Spanish capital over the past two seasons as a period of transition began at Atletico..
Alvaro Morata, Thomas Lemar, Vitolo, the returning Diego Costa and the injured Joao Felix have somewhat failed in the league with Real Madrid sitting 13 points clear of El Cholo’s side.
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But the knock-out stages of the Champions League throws the form book out the window and with the entire crowd behind the team, Atletico put in a masterclass that Simeone must have fantasised about.
Liverpool had only failed to score in one game all season, away at Napoli back in September – ignoring their kid’s defeat to Aston Villa in the League Cup.
With zero shots on target, the Spanish side did what few others have managed for a long time as they made Klopp’s side look ordinary.
Atletico’s narrow system allowed Liverpool players to cross all game, something they struggled to do with any conviction.
Two blocks of four harassed the Reds anytime they found themselves in any position of promise through the middle while the odd counter attack was enough for Simeone going forward after the early goal.
No doubt Premier League managers up and down the country were watching with their notepads at the ready.
This tie is obviously far from over.
Anfield will be a cauldron for the second leg on the 11th of March and you can be sure Liverpool will come out all guns blazing with the Premier League potentially wrapped up by the time the Spanish side head to Merseyside.
Liverpool are marginal favourites heading into the second leg of the tie but Atletico’s brick wall will be hard to break down.
On the back of Tuesday’s performance, one away goal could be enough for Simeone’s men to make it to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2017.