Liverpool forward Sadio Mane is back. Just when things couldn’t get better for the Reds, they have. The Senegalese made his return from injury against Norwich City on Saturday and impressed, scoring the only goal in another vital win. The men from Merseyside continue their Champions League title defence as they face Spanish side Atletico Madrid in the same stadium where they won the 2018/19 competition last June.
Sadio Mane Set to Star Against Atletico Madrid
Mane and Liverpool in Dreamland
When manager Jurgen Klopp was planning for this season, he could hardly imagine it going so well. The Reds are a whopping 25 points clear at the top of the Premier League table and need only five more wins to seal their first top-flight title in 30 years.
This position of strength gives them the time to concentrate their resources on the defence of their Champions League crown.
One man who has been key to this rise is Sadio Mane. The winger has scored 12 goals in the league this season but has missed the last few games with an injury.
It could be said that the Reds hardly needed him as they continued their Premier League domination. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, which was shown in Liverpool’s last game against Norwich.
With time winding down, Mane was introduced as a substitute and he made an enormous impact.
Jordan Henderson played a ball over the top which the Senegalese expertly controlled and instinctively finished to break down a stubborn Canaries defence.
It will be this type of creativity that is needed against Atletico Madrid. Los Rojiblancos are incredible defensively, boasting talents such as Jose Gimenez. They have only conceded 17 goals this season – only their city rivals, Real Madrid, have a better record.
If the Reds are to get a positive result then Mane will be key. Otherwise, they may be leaving the Wanda Metropolitano empty-handed – a contrast to that night in June when they were celebrating wildly as Henderson lifted the Champions League.
Atletico’s Offensive Struggles
While the men from Madrid have been rock-solid defensively, they are currently in fourth place in La Liga and haven’t been a serious threat to Real and Barcelona for the title.
Simply put, Los Rojiblancos struggle offensively, and struggle is putting mildly. They only have the 13th best attack in the league. Their top scorer is Alvaro Morata, who has seven goals in La Liga.
They haven’t replaced Antoine Griezmann, who left in the summer, despite spending big money on Joao Felix. The young Portuguese winger is talented but lacks Griezmann’s consistency in front of goal. Atletico are also not helped by the fact that striker Diego Costa has only scored twice this season.
They will have a hard time getting past defender Virgil van Dijk, who has been imperious this season. The Dutchman has solidified his case as the world’s best defender with a consistency of performance that is unmatched.
The statistics don’t lie – Liverpool have only let in 15 goals in the Premier League this season. That’s nine less than the next best team. Now it’s about whether they can translate that into Europe.
In Liverpool’s Hands
Sadio Mane and Liverpool will undoubtedly face a tough Atletico Madrid side, but they should come away with a positive result if their attack can produce some magic against a rock-solid defence.