Charlie Nicholas thinks Liverpool’s tussle with Atletico Madrid will be “brutal” but believes the Reds can come away from the Spanish capital with a draw.
The Sky Sports pundit believes that Atletico will provide Liverpool with a tough test on Tuesday night, despite their poor showing so far this season.
After finishing second in LaLiga last season, Atleti are currently running fourth this time around, behind arch-rivals Real Madrid, champions Barcelona and surprise package Getafe.
In a tight battle for Champions League places, Sevilla, Villarreal, Valencia and Real Sociedad are within three points.
Atletico also suffered a shock loss to third-tier Cultural Leonesa in the Copa del Rey in January and they go into the Liverpool tie after a 2-2 draw at Valencia on Friday.
Nicholas told Sky Sports: “This is a cracking tie. You could see at the weekend that the efficient Liverpool was there again. They were very classy at times, and other times they got the balance and grind right where they can take the sting out of the game. They were not quite as clinical but just wanted to get the job done.
“Atletico Madrid are nowhere near the team they were. Despite Diego Simeone still being in charge, the goalscoring, commitment and quality have all dipped. They have lost the likes of Diego Godin and the authority he brought to the team.
“They do have the same aggression, but they are struggling in La Liga. In all honesty, the two giants Barcelona and Real Madrid have been average, which tells you everything. Atletico have drawn 10 of 24 games, which is simply not good enough.
“Diego Costa has dried up in front of goal, while Alvaro Morata has gone cold once again.
“This is the game where Simeone will roll his sleeves up and warn his players of reputation; the reputation of turning over the future Premier League champions, but this is an awkward tie for Liverpool.
“Atletico’s personality is awkward, but I am going to go for Liverpool to get a draw. It will be brutal but it will be a great result for Liverpool going back to Anfield.”
The two sides met in the Champions League group stages in 2008, with both games finishing 1-1.
They last faced each other in the Europa League semi-finals of 2010, with the Spanish side prevailing on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate draw.