The German is looking forward to an ‘intense’ last-16 tie against the La Liga side, and is happy to be returning to Madrid after last year’s final win
Jurgen Klopp acknowledged Liverpool have a tough Champions League draw against Atletico Madrid, but he pointed out opposite number Diego Simeone would be disappointed to face the holders.
Liverpool topped their group ahead of Napoli and their bid for a second consecutive European crown takes them back to the Wanda Metropolitano – the scene of last season’s final – to face dangerous La Liga giants Atleti.
Klopp suggested he anticipated a return to Madrid, while recognition of a testing fixture was tempered by the strength of a last-16 draw containing only clubs from Europe’s ‘top five’ leagues.
“It’s an interesting draw,” Klopp told his club’s official website. “Before the draw, I actually thought it would be Madrid – either one of the two clubs – and that’s the way it is.
“Madrid is the place where we only have fantastic memories, all of us, so that’s great, but this time we play Atletico there and it’s their home ground.
“It’s a tough one, but if you go through all of the draws, there are pretty much four or five potential finals already in the last 16.
“So, really, really good; a good draw, a difficult game like it should be, but I don’t think Mr Simeone is running through his living room and is happy that he got Liverpool.
“It will be a tough game. Two teams who are used to playing intense football. Different styles and slightly different organisation, of course, but both are ready for intensity and that makes it pretty tough for both.”
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Reflecting on the draw as a whole, which saw Premier League rivals Manchester City paired with 13-time champions Real Madrid, Klopp added: “I think I said last time that it is somehow the strongest ever last 16 or last eight, but it looks like it becomes stronger and stronger every year.”
While Liverpool are 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League, Atletico struggled early in the season and find themselves six points off the pace in the Spanish top flight – having played a game more than top two Barcelona and Real Madrid.
However with back-to-back wins over Lokomotiv Moscow and Osasuna secured, Simeone will be hoping his side have turned the corner and will be back to their best by the time the Champions League comes back around.