Champions League: Juergen Klopp, Diego Simeone focus on present
Neither Juergen Klopp nor Diego Simeone is interested in giving too much importance to the past ahead of the Liverpool-Atletico Madrid Champions League match on Wednesday.
Liverpool manager Klopp downplayed the significance of Atletico boss Simeone’s refusal to shake hands after their last Champions League match, insisting he had nothing but respect for his opposite number. Simeone, too, is not expecting either side to have the last season’s game in mind when they meet at Anfield in the Group B clash.
The Spanish club had knocked the English giants out of the tournament last time and Simeone appeared to snub Klopp’s attempted handshake after the game.
“I respect a lot what he (Simeone) is doing,” Klopp said on Tuesday. “I said it before and after the game... we don’t know each other well, but I couldn’t respect him more. The things he’s doing at Atletico and how long he’s been doing it is absolutely exceptional.”
Klopp said he expected an intense, physical battle at Anfield, where a win would seal group leaders Liverpool’s progress to the knockout rounds.
Atletico are second in Group B, level on four points with third-placed Porto and five adrift of Liverpool, with AC Milan at the bottom having lost all of their games so far.
After losing 2-3 to Klopp’s men in Madrid in their group game in mid-October, Atletico will be determined to take something from Wednesday’s game. “I understand that we are talking about two great teams with two great stadiums, it’s a big game but there is no rematch in soccer,” Simeone said on Tuesday.
“That Anfield game (from last year) it’s in the past, we won and moved on. Those things don’t go back. It will be a game that Atletico fans will remember but won’t be a factor in this game.”
Liverpool’s Naby Keita will miss the match after injuring his hamstring, but fellow midfielders Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara have rejoined training and are in contention to play.