Alexander-Arnold wary of ‘stubborn’ Atletico
Trent Alexander-Arnold says Liverpool are determined to defend their Champions League crown in 2020 but knows Atletico Madrid are "stubborn" last-16 opposition.
The Reds memorably won their sixth European Cup in June when they beat Tottenham in the Champions League final in Madrid and they will return to the venue of that game – the Wanda Metropolitana Stadium – to take on Atletico in the first knockout round of this season’s competition next month.
So far, Jurgen Klopp’s side have negotiated a group containing Napoli, Red Bull Salzburg and Genk and their attempts to defend their trophy are likely to be tested when they go up against Atletico in the last 16, with the first leg in Madrid on February 18 before the return game at Anfield on March 11.
Defender Alexander-Arnold is expecting a tough examination against a side that have finished in the top three in La Liga for the past seven years and are managed by the highly-respected Diego Simeone.
He said in Liverpool’s matchday programme, via the club’s website: “Atletico Madrid are a stubborn team, one that’s hard to break down, and a passionate team with a passionate manager. It’ll be interesting to see the two managers on the touchline and see who is more passionate!
“We had a tough group this year and a tough round of 16 opponent again, but we like to be tested as a team because it brings the best out of us. If you want to be the best you have to beat the best, so for us it’s about testing ourselves as much as possible.”
If Klopp’s side were to progress all the way to the final again this year it would mean a return to Istanbul and the Ataturk Stadium – where they famously won the trophy in 2005 against AC Milan – and Alexander-Arnold admits it would be special to go back as they chase more silverware.
He added: “Hopefully we’ll be able to go back to Istanbul again, which would be massive for the club, but to have a perfect 2020 we need to win as many trophies as possible.”
Liverpool are dominating in the Premier League this season and hold a 13 point advantage over second-placed Leicester City at the top with a game in hand ahead of Saturday’s trip to play Tottenham.
Aidan Perkins is a senior journalist that specialises in football stories. Aidan, a Liverpool fan, also has a broad knowledge of several other sports.