Atlético Madrid are concerned that Liverpool will ‘lift their foot’ against Porto and put the Spanish side’s hopes of qualification from the group in jeopardy.
That’s according to Marca, who say there are ‘fears in some quarters’ that Liverpool already securing passage could harm Diego Simeone’s side.
Liverpool are already through to the Champions League knockout stages as winners of group B, having picked up 12 points from their first four games.
That means they can afford to rotate for the final two games, with first-place already secured and a busy schedule to think of.
Porto are currently second in the group with five points and Atlético third with four, meaning it is a straight shootout between those two for the final qualification place.
Atlético fear that Liverpool will ‘lift their foot’ in their clash with Porto, in other words, take their foot off the pedal, which would ‘damage’ Simeone’s side’s chances of progression.
The newspaper states that there is ‘growing tension’ between Liverpool and Atlético, which was epitomised by the small war of words between Jurgen Klopp and his counterpart over their last two meetings.
The feeling is that could lead Liverpool to look to get one over on Atlético, with it feared they won’t put in the same ‘intensity’ as there is ‘little money at stake’ in terms of them winning or losing. In fact, they have no need to push for a win.
The effort they show, then, will determine how the group pans out. A win for Porto and defeat to Milan for Atlético, for example, would see them out.
It’s stated that ‘logic dictates’, given Liverpool are also in a title race, that they will rest some of their big-name players, thus handing Porto their opportunity.
Atlético aren’t worried that Liverpool will simply throw in the towel and let Porto win, but the fear is that they will ‘lower their pace’ and thus ‘complicate the scenario’ for Atlético even more than it is.
In reality, the Spanish side simply need to win both of their games, and they’ll be through, but they’d also be very grateful if Liverpool could do them a favour and beat Porto as well.