Jurgen Klopp Criticises Atletico Madrid Style: 'They Could Play Proper Football'

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistMarch 12, 2020

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 11: Diego Simeone, Manager of Atletico Madrid and Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool bump elbows prior to the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match between Liverpool FC and Atletico Madrid at Anfield on March 11, 2020 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has said he's unsure why Atletico Madrid don't play what he deems to be "proper football." 

The Reds were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League by Atletico on Wednesday. Having gone 2-0 up on the night in extra time, Liverpool caved in after an error from goalkeeper Adrian; they were eventually beaten 3-2 at Anfield and 4-2 on aggregate in the last-16 tie.

Over the course of the two legs, Atletico sat deep and defended for long spells against the Premier League leaders. Speaking to BT Sport after Wednesday's encounter, Klopp was critical of the brand of the Madrid outfit's brand of football (h/t Goal):

"I am completely happy with the performance. It's so difficult to play a side like this. I don't understand, with the quality they have, the football they play. They could play proper football, but they stand deep and have counter-attacks.

"We accept it of course, but it doesn't feel right tonight. I realise I am a really bad loser, especially when the boys put such an effort in against world-class players on the other side who defend with two rows of four.

"We know in the last two years we had some lucky moments in the Champions League, you have to to reach two finals, but today it was everything was against us in the decisive moments."

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone was asked about Klopp's comments following the game:

Miguel Delaney @MiguelDelaney

Klopp's "proper football" comments put to Simeone. Asked how he plays: "To win. With all our soul."

Georginio Wijnaldum put Liverpool ahead on the night, giving them a 1-0 lead after 90 minutes and taking the tie into extra time.

Roberto Firmino's goal then gave Liverpool the aggregate lead in the contest, only for Marcos Llorente's brace to stun Anfield. Alvaro Morata added the gloss to the scoreline in the dying embers of the game, capping off a slick counter-attack:

Bleacher Report Live @brlive

Morata. Dagger. And celebrates in front of the traveling Atlético fans at Anfield 🔥 https://t.co/mRuPMQ5bct

Under Simeone's tutelage, Atletico have long had a reputation for being defensive. While the style of play may not be palatable for all, the coach has steered Madrid to a La Liga title, UEFA Europa League success and two Champions League finals.

Against Liverpool, they rode their luck at times, with goalkeeper Jan Oblak springing into action on numerous occasions to keep out efforts from those in red. Some have suggested the Premier League side were extremely unfortunate:

michael owen @themichaelowen

Please spare me all this inevitable Simeone masterclass nonsense. There’s nothing genius about putting 11 top class footballers behind the ball. Liverpool absolutely pumped them throughout.

Fox Soccer summed up what a huge achievement it was for Simeone and his players to beat Liverpool:

FOX Soccer @FOXSoccer

Diego Simeone just handed Liverpool their: ❌ 1st loss at Anfield in 43 games ❌ 1st European defeat at Anfield since 2014 ❌ 1st European defeat in a two-legged tie since 2015 https://t.co/avgbnMu7NL

Atletico have had a challenging campaign in the main, with the team struggling to produce consistent performances in La Liga following the departures of Diego Godin, Rodrigo and Antoine Griezmann last summer.

While Klopp will be pleased with the way his team played, he will be disappointed at how wasteful the Reds were when opportunities arose. Against an outfit like Atletico, they need to be seized.