Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said on Monday that he was not a fan of Spanish side Atletico Madrid’s style of play but could not argue with their results on the pitch.
Liverpool, who were beaten home and away by Diego Simeone’s team in the Champions League Round of 16 last season, travel to Madrid on Tuesday to take on Atletico in the group stage.
Klopp, who criticised Atletico’s physically demanding and defensive style after Liverpool’s defeats, told reporters on Monday that those comments had stemmed from anger and disappointment, not a lack of respect for the Spanish team.
“After the second game I was angry and disappointed about a lot of things,” Klopp told a news conference.
“Life, a bit, as well as things going wrong in the world at that moment. We played against a team full of world class players and they defended with all they had.
“Diego Simeone is doing everything right, he is the Spanish champion and he has been at Atletico for a long time. He keeps them on their toes and they fight for their lives. I couldn’t respect it more.
“Do I like it? Not too much. But that’s because I like a different style of football. It just has to be successful and that is what Atletico is for sure.”
The German added that beating Atletico over both legs this season would likely seal Liverpool’s progress to the knockout rounds.
Klopp’s team are top of Group B on six points from two games, two points ahead of second-placed Atletico, while Porto are third with one point and AC Milan bottom without a point.
“If we win both games against Atletico it’s likely we go through,” Klopp added. “We lost both games last time though, so let’s see.
“I am not that positive to think we have this in the pocket. A tough place to go. The second leg (last season) was our toughest game in the toughest circumstances.
“We didn’t play well there last time but we learned a lot in the two games.
“Now the world is in a better place, not safe but a better place. They have changed some players but are not a weaker animal… We want a positive result and a positive performance.”