The Rojiblancos president has had a cheeky dig in the Merseysiders after Jurgen Klopp talked up the air of their historical home arena.
Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo has played down the possible effect of this Anfield setting on next month’s Champions League second leg against Liverpool, staged the scene would fail a UEFA inspection.
Atletico came off with a narrow 1-0 victory over the runaway Premier League leaders within their last-16 first-leg tie on Tuesday in front of a boisterous crowd at the Wanda Metropolitano, Atletico’s house since 2017.
It was just Liverpool’s third defeat in all competitions this year and sparked scenes of jubilation from Atletico fans and players at the final whistle.
Atletico boss Diego Simeone joked that his side “started beating Liverpool in the roundabout” after fans lined the streets outside the scene, lit flares and chanted at good quantity as Liverpool’s bus arrived for the game.
Reds boss Jurgen Klopp, who had been unhappy with some aspects of Atletico’s strategy to the match, warned after the game that the tie was still alive, saying: “Welcome to Anfield. It isn’t over yet.”
The famous old ground, Liverpool’s home since 1892, has witnessed some renowned European comebacks in recent years, none more so than last year, once the Reds overturned a 3-0 first-leg deficit to beat Barcelona 4-0 and reach the Champions League final.
Even though a new Main Stand was opened in 2016, the other three stands haven’t seen significant redevelopment since the 1990s, leading Cerezo to target a dig at the Merseysiders’ leadership as he tried to play down the air surrounding the stadium.
“He who strikes first strikes hardest. To see our lovers so dedicated to the group was amazing. It was absolutely magnificent,” he advised AS. “Anfield is an excellent stadium, but it’s old. It likely would not pass the UEFA review if it needed to take action.”
Reflecting on the match, Cerezo believed the Rojiblancos had struck back at critics who had written off their chances from the tie given their current battles in La Liga.
“I always sleep well. There are times when you taste glory and others if you don’t. According to the media, a week ago we had been buried and dead and today we are very much alive,” he added.
“They [Liverpool] had gone 30 games unbeaten and people were saying they’re the best team in the world. We’re pleased with the outcome but we have another game to go. But we’ve rediscovered ourselves and that’s the best news.”
Cerezo also emphasized that Diego Simeone will stay as coach for the long term after some had questioned his future after a run of seven matches without a win in all competitions.
“We have an exceptional coach who’ll be with us for quite a long time. And we also have an exceptional team,” he said.