Liverpool warned Atletico will be 'more difficult' to overcome than Barcelona

Goal.com

Liverpool will be provided with a sterner test against Atletico Madrid than they were by Barcelona in the Champions League semi-finals last season, according to John Barnes.

Atletico got the better of the Reds in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie at Wanda Metropolitano, with an early Saul Niguez goal earning the home side a 1-0 victory.

Jurgen Klopp's men will have to produce a much-improved display at Anfield in order to reach the quarter-finals of the competition, and could draw inspiration from their stunning comeback against Barca in 2019.

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Liverpool lost 3-0 at Camp Nou after a Lionel Messi masterclass, but managed to beat the Spanish champions 4-0 at home before going on to lift the trophy with a final victory over Tottenham in Madrid.

Barnes has warned that Atletico will be an altogether different prospect given their defensive prowess, with Diego Simeone likely to instruct his team to sit back and absorb pressure once again.

"I think it’s different playing Atletico Madrid and Barcelona," the Liverpool legend told Sky Sports . "You say Barcelona is a better team than Atletico, but not defensively.

"If they have to defend a lead and have 20 per cent possession and not concede that’s what Diego Simeone does.

"So, it was a huge shock to Barcelona, but I think it will be more difficult against Atletico."

After being humbled by Atletico, Liverpool surrendered their unbeaten Premier League record to Watford before being knocked out of the FA Cup by Chelsea on Tuesday, with questions asked over a perceived drop in collective standards since the winter break.

However, a first league title in 30 years remains just four wins away and Barnes doesn't believe Klopp's side deserve the criticism which has come their way in the last couple of weeks.

"In the last 18 months, we can’t criticise them [Liverpool] in any shape or form," he added. "There’s a lot being made about they’ve lost three of the last four, I’d prefer to think we’ve lost three, four including one last season, in the last 70 or 80 matches.

"I don’t think it was ever going to continue, Liverpool have been playing to their maximum. They haven’t necessarily got better players than any other team in the top four or five.

"They have a good attitude, commitment, determination and harmony with the fans, which meant that they maximised their potential to do what they did."

Liverpool are due back in Premier League action at home to Bournemouth on Saturday, before preparations for Atletico's arrival at Anfield on March 10 get underway.

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