Premier League • England

Felix snubs Liverpool favourite amid Atletico warning, as Simeone rates Salah

Steve Pearson
Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix celebrating after Luis Suarez scored a La Liga goal in October, 2021

Joao Felix curiously failed to mention a red-hot Liverpool forward when discussing their attacking prowess, while Diego Simeone rated Mohamed Salah ahead of their Champions League clash with the Reds on Tuesday night.

Liverpool travel to Madrid to take on Atletico in what promises to be a titanic tussle in the Champions League. The Reds currently sit atop Group B having secured two victories from two to begin their campaign. Atletico, meanwhile, would go top with a win having notched four points from their opening two matches.

Atletico have the unique advantage of having had their weekend La Liga match postponed.

Both they and local rivals Real Madrid saw a request to the push back their domestic matches accepted. Their reasoning stemmed from the high number of South American players they would have been without following the international break.

Nonetheless, even a fresh Atletico side will be up against it facing Liverpool’s formidable forward line.

And speaking ahead of the contest, Portuguese forward Felix insisted his side are “prepared” to halt the Reds’ charge. But in doing so, Felix namechecked Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota as being particularly “dangerous”, yet failed to mention Roberto Firmino.

Firmino has often been the most overlooked of Liverpool’s regular starters up front. The Brazilian looked back to his best at the weekend, however, bagging a clinical hat-trick at Watford.

“We await a strong team,” said Felix (via Football Espana). “Everyone knows that it’s Liverpool. It’s a great team, especially in attack, but we are prepared for them and we will do everything possible to win.

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“Mo Salah is dangerous, Sadio Mane is dangerous, Jota is dangerous. Liverpool have many dangerous players and it will be a difficult game.”

Containing Salah will have been atop the agenda in Atletico’s pre-match preparations. The Egyptian winger is in the form of his life having plundered 10 goals from 10 appearances this year.

Simeone is fully aware of the threat Salah will provide, and described the Reds talisman as “extraordinary”. However, the Argentine boss stressed Atletico have their own “decisive” goal machine in familiar face Luis Suarez.

Atletico Madrid's Luis Suarez celebrates after scoring against Barcelona.

“All I care about is Liverpool,” Simeone said on Monday (via Football Espana).

“Mohamed Salah is an extraordinary player and has been at a fantastic level for a few years with Liverpool and his national team.

“Suarez is a decisive player and he is excited about tomorrow, the same as the other players, those who play with their national teams and those that stayed with us during the international break.”

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“I’m more complete” – French ace on Alexander-Arnold

Meanwhile, Benjamin Pavard claims he is “more complete” than Liverpool man and fellow right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold – although that isn’t really his position at all.

The Frenchman has often played on the right-hand side of defence at club level.  However, he previously played as a centre-back at Stuttgart and has clarified that is his true position.

Now, speaking to the French edition of Goal (via the Mirror), Pavard namechecked Liverpool full-back Alexander-Arnold in a comparison and said he has more to his game in his own third.

“With [France coach Didier] Deschamps I have always been a holder,” he said. “If he trusts me it’s not for my beautiful eyes or my hair. He is aware of my qualities.

“After that I have to improve in certain areas; I have to take more risks, more initiatives. I am aware of this and I work on this on a daily basis.

“A defender must first defend well. On paper, Pavard may be less sexy than [Achraf] Hakimi, [Alexander-]Arnold, but I find that defensively I am more complete.”

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