Liverpool qualified for the Champions League Round of 16 with a fourth consecutive win in their group stage with two victories over Atletico Madrid.
Beating the La Liga side home and away is a significant achievement, and it shows that Liverpool have progressed under Jurgen Klopp after previously battling against elite low block defences.
Both Atletico and Napoli have been terrible draws for the Reds in recent years, yet it appears as though Klopp has found a way to unlock these types of defences at the highest level.
Sadio Mane and Trent Alexander-Arnold were the key performers and the former only played 45 minutes as Klopp looked to avoid injury and potentially suspension.
The Senegal international was simply unplayable against Diego Simeone’s men and it revealed the best way for Liverpool to play against a side that sits deep against the Reds in the hopes they will struggle to score.
Firstly, you either need Mane or Salah making deep, diagonal runs from midfield to disrupt the midfield organisation that is so crucial to protecting a low block with either four or five defenders.
The second aspect is something that only Liverpool can really offer. You need world-class delivery into the box from out wide, which is why their full-backs are so important. Not only that but the delivery needs to be early before the defence gets set.
This worked perfectly against Atletico, as Mane picked the ball up on the left-wing near the halfway line and wriggled away from two markers and drove into midfield before giving the ball to Hendo, who passed to Trent.
The Scouser found Mane in the box with what seemed to be a low driven shot. The no.10 converted it to double the Reds’ lead but the same ball found Diogo Jota with slightly more elevation for the opener.
Simeone might have stuck to his guns and avoided shaking Klopp’s hand again. The German and the Reds got the last laugh with qualification for the Round of 16 and a double over Atletico.