Liverpool have exactly what they needed in the build-up to the second-leg against Atletico Madrid. It promises to be one of the biggest games of the season.
The Reds will want every advantage possible as they look to overturn that 1-0 defeat. They’ve all but won the Premier League, after all, and thus the Champions League is their biggest goal.
And yet at the first knockout stage, they are fighting against the tide. They need to beat Atletico at Anfield, without the benefit of a single away goal backing them up.
Liverpool will need to be the best they can be to overturn a deficit against a top team who is willing to defend for 90 minutes. Fortunately, they have the build-up they needed.
The Reds play four games ahead of that second-leg. Three of them are against Premier League sides battling relegation – great opportunities to practice against packed defences, willing to take a draw.
Now, West Ham United, Watford and Bournemouth aren’t exactly on Atletico’s level, but the style will be similar. Liverpool can then work on possible systems and players who can break defences down.
There’s one more game in there, too. It’s away at Chelsea in the FA Cup – a fantastic chance to play a high-pressure, cagey game in which neither can afford to lose.
If anyone was worried about complacency, that game should get players back in the right state of mind.
Liverpool couldn’t really have asked for a better selection of games in the build-up to that Atletico clash. They’re not all intense games that will tire players and they offer the right kind of practice.
The team should be completely prepared for that Anfield task, then.