Atletico Madrid’s defensive display against Liverpool in their last-16 Champions League clash was a joy to watch, according to Gary Breen.
Diego Simeone’s side scored after just four minutes against the runaway Premier League leaders, shut up shop and ground out the win to take a 1-0 lead to Anfield in the second leg.
While Atletico came under some criticism for their defensive tactics, Breen told Friday’s OTB AM that he found the game fascinating to watch.
“In an era where offensive football is now prevalent, to see Atletico go about their business in how disciplined, how organised and how well drilled they are - it’s a sight to behold. It really is.
“Baring in mind, this isn’t one of the best Atletico teams we’ve seen. They’re having their struggles in La Liga.
“But to go up against one of the best attacking teams in the world and to deny them an opportunity of a strike on goal - I think it’s only the second time since Klopp’s been manager. It just shows the quality of [Diego Simeone’s] work,” Breen said.
The former Republic of Ireland international was particularly impressed with Atletico's manager Simeone and praised him for halting a seemingly unstoppable Liverpool side.
“When you play against Liverpool it’s so important that you get that defensive structure in place. Because they’re so quick-playing through the thirds as soon as anyone is even just a couple of yards out of position they’ll expose it.
“You have Simeone on the sidelines and he actually makes Klopp look shy in terms of his histrionics. But he’s demanding, he’s cajoling his players - he’s literally conducting. I really enjoy it and that’s not just as an ex-defender.
“When I think about the greatest ever defenders - AC Milan’s team led by [Franco] Baresi or Arsenal’s brilliant Tony Adams.
“I am aware of just how much hard work and time you have to do to be able to execute that. I think you could see just how good a coach Simeone is,” Breen commented.
Liverpool will, of course, have a second crack at Atletico when they welcome them to Anfield Road but progression for the Premier League leaders is by no means guaranteed.