Saul Nigez, the hero of Tuesday night’s Champions League encounter against Liverpool expected a good fight.
Diego Simeone’s side ended up winning the first leg of the round of 16 tie 1-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Nigez tucked in the only goal of the game from close range, giving his side the lead early on. From then, the Reds really struggled to break down the Atletico rearguard, something the home side had planned for according to Saul’s comments.
Saul told the Guardian prior to the fixture, “They have those ‘perros de presa’ [hunting dogs] in the middle who run, press. It’s not just running for the sake of running: they do things that aren’t normal and it looks disordered but it’s ordered, mechanised.
“One comes out here and you think: ‘That’s mad, why’s he there?’ But the other man knows and comes from here. Klopp said they play with their heart, but it’s planned too. One breaks out to press, wild, but they follow. It’s very hard to escape when they come at you like that.
“It’s incredible: they press like animals, because they know that even if they get turned there will be seven of them running like mad to get back. Liverpool are very complete, a great team in every area [but] they find it hardest when you’re deep because they’re very, very, very good in transition.
“I watched them against Norwich and if it wasn’t for Mané’s extraordinary control, they don’t win. They’ve won lots of games they could have drawn or lost, which tells you something about what they have inside. It’s not luck. It’s work, sacrifice, not giving up a single ball for lost.”
READ MORE: Champions League 2020 Final: 5 things to know about Liverpool