Saul Niguez says Atletico Madrid’s win over Liverpool in the Champions League wasn’t the most difficult trip he has faced at the club.
Diego Simeone masterminded a shock 3-2 win at Anfield to see the European champions knocked out 4-2 on aggregate.
Liverpool had 71 per cent possession and 34 shots in the match but an inspired performance from goalkeeper Jan Oblak and sucker-punch goals from Marcos Llorente and Alvaro Morata saw Atletico through.
“It was a very difficult match, but we already knew that,” Saul told Atletico’s official website .
“To be honest, it wasn’t the game in which I suffered the most. I didn’t feel we weren’t playing well.
“For instance, I remember when we faced Bayern Munich in Germany [in 2016]. I really suffered in that one, I thought to myself we wouldn’t come out alive!
“Whereas at Anfield, I had a lot of confidence in the team, I thought we were doing things well.”
Following their 1-0 first-leg win at the Wanda Metropolitano, Atletico had been warned by Liverpool’s Andy Robertson that the tie wasn’t over with the second game at Anfield still to play.
But, while Atletico were under the cosh for large portions of the game, their defensive steel and counter-attacking prowess eventually shone through.
Simeone brought Morata and Llorente on for the starting front two of Diego Costa and Joao Felix, who had both struggled to make a positive impact on the game.
“It’s true they had a lot of chances an Jan was exceptional as always, and it’s true that at first we didn’t have as many chances as we would have wanted,” Saul admitted.
“But when they scored their first goal, we saw that they really came at us and left spaces at the back, which we could attack.
“Marcos Llorente, the hero of the day along with Jan, came on with fresh legs and was able to help Morata, who was also fresh, and the whole team. We needed them to hurt Liverpool on the break.
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“I think that speaks volumes about the team, because it’s not only the starters who make the difference, it’s also the players coming on from the bench.
“We thought about the group, not about ourselves individually, which is maybe what sets us apart.”
Simeone spoke about the game earlier this week , insisting his side hadn’t been lucky to win at Anfield and explaining “football is like boxing”.