Disappointed, but not downhearted.
Joe Gomez was still smiling as he left the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Tuesday night. Liverpool may have lost – a rarity indeed, these days – but at just 1-0 the halfway stage of their Champions League last 16 tie against Atletico Madrid, the European champions remain very much in the hunt .
“It’s halfway done,” said Gomez, who then issued a more than fair reminder to anyone who may be doubting Liverpool’s capacity for a fightback.
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“We’ve come back from bigger deficits, and the second leg is at Anfield so…” he added.
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Still, defeat in Madrid represents a rare setback for Jurgen Klopp’s team, who fell behind to Saul Niguez’s fourth-minute goal and then failed to muster a single shot on target in reply, against an Atletico team renowned for its defensive excellence.
“I think there are positives to take,” insisted Gomez. “Obviously losing is not something we’ve got into the habit of, but we dominated the majority of the game.
“They made it difficult, they played to their strengths, breaking up the game, going down and using the atmosphere. We’ll do the same at Anfield, we’ll use our atmosphere and our supporters in the same way.”
That, one suspects, will be key. Diego Simeone, the Atletico manager, had been blown away by the reception he and his players received on Tuesday night – “we started winning the game on the roundabout next to the stadium,” he said, referring to the welcome which greeted their arrival before the game – but the second leg promises to be a very different affair.
And even Lionel Messi and Barcelona could vouch for the power of Anfield, of course.
“We’ll be ready,” said Gomez. “We’ll continue to do what we do, play with the same intensity and with our atmosphere that adds to things. We’ll see how they cope with it.
“Obviously we fancy ourselves, but we still have to go and do the job. We still have to prove it. It’s all good being favourites, but on the night you have to do the job and that’s what we’ll do.
“The chance is there, it’s only going to take one goal to get us back in the tie and we know we will get chances to score.”
He added: “We have to believe that we can make it right and do the job in the second leg, and we all do believe. Last year we were down way more than this.
“Yeah they’re a good team but we know we can dominate and play our way, create chances. We have to believe in that, and not go into the game thinking we’ve got a mountain to climb.”
Liverpool will assess the hamstring injury sustained by Jordan Henderson in Tuesday’s game. The Reds captain was forced off 10 minutes from time, and left the stadium with a heavy limp.
Henderson will undergo a scan at Melwood on Wednesday to determine the extent of the problem, but is unlikely to be risked for Monday’s Premier League clash with West Ham.