Sky Sports pundit states his prediction for Atletico v Liverpool FC
Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas is backing Liverpool FC to draw with Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash on Tuesday night
Charlie Nicholas is backing Liverpool FC to leave Atletico Madrid with a goalless draw in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday night.
The Reds will make the trip to the Spanish capital as Jurgen Klopp’s side look to secure a positive result ahead of the return leg at Anfield on Wednesday 11 March.
Liverpool FC were 1-0 winners against Norwich City at Carrow Road on Saturday evening thanks to Sadio Mane’s 78th-minute winner after his introduction from the bench.
The Merseyside outfit haven’t lost a Premier League game this season following a sensational return of 25 victories and one draw in their title challenge so far.
Liverpool FC have, however, suffered a defeat in the Champions League this term after a 2-0 loss to Napoli in south Italy in their opening group-stage fixture back in September.
Atletico are in fourth position and 13 points adrift of La Liga leaders Real Madrid in a mixed season for Diego Simeone’s side.
Sky Sports pundit Nicholas is backing Liverpool FC to hold Atletico to a goalless draw at the Wanda Metropolitan Stadium in the first leg on Tuesday night.
“This is a cracking tie,” Nicholas told Sky Sports. “You could see at the weekend that the efficient Liverpool was there again.
“They were very classy at times, and other times they got the balance and grind right where they can take the sting out of the game. They were not quite as clinical but just wanted to get the job done.
“I am finding it tough to pick the Player of the Year this season. My early tip was Sadio Mane. You could see the boost it gave them coming off the bench on Saturday, and no other player in his side could have scored that. His movement and agility allowed him to do that.
“Others would have been more vigilant of what was happening off the ball. Do all the players have to be from Liverpool? I have mentioned others, but it is the greatness of where they are.”
Nicholas added: “Atletico Madrid are nowhere near the team they were. Despite Diego Simeone still being in charge, the goalscoring, commitment and quality have all dipped.
“They have lost the likes of Diego Godin and the authority he brought to the team. They do have the same aggression, but they are struggling in La Liga.
“In all honesty, the two giants Barcelona and Real Madrid have been average, which tells you everything. Atletico have drawn 10 of 24 games, which is simply not good enough. Diego Costa has dried up in front of goal, while Alvaro Morata has gone cold once again.
“This is the game where Simeone will roll his sleeves up and warn his players of reputation; the reputation of turning over the future Premier League champions, but this is an awkward tie for Liverpool.
“Atletico’s personality is awkward, but I am going to go for Liverpool to get a draw. It will be brutal but it will be a great result for Liverpool going back to Anfield.”
Liverpool FC lifted their sixth European Cup at the Wanda Metropolitan Stadium last term following a 2-0 victory over Tottenham.
The Reds will host West Ham United in the Premier League on Monday night.