Atletico Madrid defender Kieran Trippier has hit back at those who have been critical of his side’s approach against Liverpool in their Champions League tie.
Leading 1-0 from the first leg, the Spanish giants secured a 3-2 win at Anfield after extra-time earlier this month to advance to the quarter-finals of the competition.
However, as seen in Jurgen Klopp’s post-match interview below and the analysis from some of the BT Sport pundits after the game, many were critical of how defensive Atleti were.
As per ESPN, boss Diego Simeone didn’t bite when responding to the comments, as he took a classy approach and simply insisted his side play to their strengths.
“[We play] to win. With our weapons, to win,” he said. “Respecting our identity, respecting the characteristics of the players, exploiting the defects of the opponents, that’s how we play.”
Trippier has echoed that sentiment, insisting that Atleti were never going to go to Merseyside to play open football and go toe-to-toe with Liverpool as ultimately they respected the quality that they possess and knew they’d potentially come out second best.
“If you go there and go toe-to-toe with Liverpool, you’re going to get beat 6-0. I don’t know what people expect,” Trippier told the Mirror. “You see pundits complaining because we did defend, but did they expect us to go there and play attacking football, especially with Liverpool playing the way that they’re playing at the moment? You need to go there with a plan and we did that.
“We did have to defend, but the most important thing is that we got the win.”
“We knew they would blow up because of the amount of pressure they’d applied and the amount of energy they’d put into the game. We knew they’d slow down. It took us over 100 minutes, but we won 3-2.
“People can complain as much as they want, but we thought it was necessary for that type of game.
“As I’ve got older it has stopped bothering me. Liverpool didn’t put their chances away and we beat them in both legs. It worked and that’s what football is about.”
It’s difficult to argue with Trippier and Simeone in truth, as they ultimately did what they felt was the right thing to try and beat Liverpool, which they did, and while ideally every fan wants to see end-to-end exciting football, there is quality in both approaches in this instance.
Not every team can play the expansive and high-tempo football that the likes of the Reds and Manchester City play, and certainly not against those specific teams in such a crucial encounter.
With the atmosphere of Anfield to factor in too given it has seen plenty of magical European nights over the years, Atleti had every right to be defensive and wait for their opportunities to come and so they can be delighted that their gameplan worked and they’ll look forward to the next round of the Champions League when it resumes.
"It's difficult to explain these goals, to be honest. The boys fought hard."
"We will come again, and go again. But for now, we are out."
A disappointed Jurgen Klopp is keen to not get too despondent despite the Reds losing hold of their European crown…
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 11, 2020