John Barnes has assessed the Reds’ chances of overturning a 1-0 aggregate deficit against Diego Simeone’s side in Europe.
Liverpool will be provided with a sterner test against Atletico Madrid than they were by Barcelona from the Champions League semi-finals last year, according to John Barnes.
Atletico got the better of the Reds in the first leg of the round-of-16 tie at Wanda Metropolitano, with an early Saul Niguez goal earning the home side a 1-0 victory.
Jurgen Klopp’s men will need to generate a much-improved screen at Anfield so as to get to the quarter-finals of the contest, and might draw inspiration from their stunning comeback against Barca in 2019.
Liverpool lost 3-0 in Camp Nou following a Lionel Messi masterclass, but was able to conquer the Spanish champions 4-0 at home before going on to lift the trophy with a final victory over Tottenham at Madrid.
Barnes has cautioned that Atletico will be a completely different prospect given their defensive prowess, with Diego Simeone likely to instruct his team to sit back and absorb pressure once more.
“I think it’s different playing Atletico Madrid and Barcelona,” the Liverpool legend told Sky Sports. “You say Barcelona is a much better team than Atletico but not defensively.
“If they must defend a lead and have 20 percent possession, not concede that is what Diego Simeone does.
“So, it was a massive shock to Barcelona, but I think it is going to be more challenging against Atletico.”
After being humbled by Atletico, Liverpool surrendered their unbeaten Premier League record to Watford before being pumped out of the FA Cup by Chelsea on Tuesday, with questions asked over a perceived fall in collective criteria because the winter break.
But a first league title in 30 years stays only four wins away and Barnes does not think Klopp’s side deserve the criticism that has come their way in the past couple of weeks.
“In the past 18 months, we can not criticise them [Liverpool] in any shape or form,” he added. “There is a lot being made about they have lost three of the previous four, I would prefer to think we have lost three, four including one final year, in the last 70 or 80 matches.
“I don’t believe it was going to last, Liverpool have been playing with their maximum. They have not always got better players than any other group in the top four or five.
“They have a fantastic attitude, dedication, determination and stability with the lovers, which meant they maximised their potential to do what they did.”
Liverpool are due back in Premier League action at home to Bournemouth on Saturday, before preparations for Atletico’s coming at Anfield on March 10 get penalized.