Sadio Mane demonstrated against Bournemouth exactly how Liverpool can defeat Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
It certainly wasn’t Liverpool’s best performance of the season but they came through it. The Reds fell behind against the Cherries but hit back with two goals to win 2-1.
Despite not quite looking at their best, they did showcase how to beat Atletico – Mane, in particular.
Both Liverpool goals featured Mane and both came from defensive errors. The first saw the Senegalese win the ball high up the pitch after the defender tried to take him on. His pass to Mohamed Salah was sloppy but Mane had already done the damage.
Similarly, Bournemouth lost the ball on the half-way line for Liverpool’s second goal. Mane again took advantage, drifting into space a defender had vacated and finishing from Virgil van Dijk’s pass.
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And capitalising on mistakes is how Liverpool will overcome Atletico on Wednesday.
The Spaniards will almost certainly defend deep and compact – much like they did in the home leg. On that occasion, Liverpool failed to break them down but more works in their favour next week.
The Anfield crowd, as well as the extra pressure on Atletico, will lead to lapses of judgement. For a team that defends so solidly, these may be few and far between but mistakes will inevitably happen.
And when they do, Liverpool must be ruthless. Mane led the way against Bournemouth to show them how to do that. Even when the team wasn’t playing brilliantly, they’ve still clearly got the players to do it.
It may be a tough and tight game but the Reds – and Mane – showed how to beat Atletico.