By Tim Stannard
Simeone looks to turn back time against a Liverpool team that has borrowed a few tricks from Atletico Madrid
There was a mischievous glint in Diego Simeone's eye on Monday. He knew something that no one else does.
Then again, there is always a glint in Diego Simeone's eye. Atletico Madrid's Argentinian coach is always plotting something dastardly for his opponents. Normally a narrow 1-0 win.
Unfortunately, those plots have not come off that often this season, due to meddling injuries and the old guard of the team moving on last summer. The Rojiblancos were out of the Copa del Rey before the tournament had barely begun.
In a LaLiga title race which is wide open due to the inconsistencies of both Real Madrid and Barcelona, Atletico are 13 points off the pace, even behind Getafe in the standings.
The Champions League is the last, best hope of success in a season that could be over in February. The problem there is that Atletico's opponents in the team's Last 16 tie is Liverpool, the club that has not been beaten in the Premier League for over a year and keeps grinding out the wins.
While the Anfield outfit is being branded as invincible, the Champions League was a sign of vulnerability this season with Napoli having beaten Liverpool 2-0 in Italy and having held their opponents 1-1 in the reverse fixture. And that's a Napoli that is having a lamentable campaign.
So there is a chance.
"I don't sense pessimism, I sense optimism and motivation," enthused Simeone, talking ahead of the game. It's a match that could see Diego Costa putting the fear factor into Liverpool, with the Spanish-Brazilian returning to the squad for the first time since November due to injury.
Jurgen Klopp is on his guard despite predictions that the tie is a foregone conclusion. "Playing Atletico is one of the most difficult things in the life of a footballer," declared the German, "well organized, a result machine, squeezing results out of each game if possible."
The Liverpool manager is describing the Atletico of two or three years ago and has borrowed a few tricks from that version of the Rojiblancos as the Champions League serves up a match between a near unbeatable team and a side that refuses to be beaten.
Neymar returns for PSG is goal battle against Borussia Dortmund
While Atletico Madrid and Liverpool's Champions League tie may only feature a single goal scored over the two legs, Borussia Dortmund and PSG's madcap mayhem of an encounter could see a goal scored in the opening seconds. The first of many.
The two teams have banged in 130 goals between the them so far this season in league play. Eight were scored by the pair this weekend alone. And when looking at the squads, it is easy to see why the two clubs are so prolific.
PSG has Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, and Mauro Icardi. Borussia Dortmund has the teenage phenom, Erling Haaland and the...er...teenage phenom Jadon Sancho, as well as Marco Reus thrown in for good measure, although the German misses the first leg through injury.
Despite all this attacking talent, the focus remains on Neymar going into Tuesday's tie in Germany. The Brazilian has been out all month with a rib injury and still has a huge number of points to prove in the Champions League, the tournament where the most expensive player in the world was supposed to shine but has failed to do so with PSG.
"If we have Ney on the field, he has the ability to do decisive things," declared Thomas Tuchel who makes a return against a Dortmund side he once coached.
Out of the various PSG incarnations since Neymar's low-key arrival in Paris, the current team is seen as the best equipped for a long run in the Champions League - Keylor Navas in goal, a reliable defense, a labor-intensive midfield and a world-class forward line.
What can possibly go wrong?
The Sports Burst live show might try to answer that with a Champions League prediction special at 12PM ET. Head to our beIN SPORTS USA Facebook page, Youtube page or beIN SPORTS XTRA to join in.
Barca v Barca as new striker is selected
Barcelona are not in action in the Champions League until next week, but that does not mean that the club has not been keeping busy making headlines.
The latest offerings to the world in a bizarro 2020 and to keep Quique Setien wishing he was still staring at cows is the remarkable story from Spanish radio station, Cadena Ser, that the club president hired a company to set up and run social media accounts to spin against current and former Barcelona players such as Xavi Hernandez and Lionel Messi and fluff the image of himself and the current Barcelona hierarchy.
Barcelona have denied the allegations and legal shenanigans means that this is as far as Sports Burst is going with the story for today.
However, there is footballing news that it is fully able to report. The key to the double this season for Barcelona could be on the horizon - a savior to bang in the goals in LaLiga and the Champions League. The knight in shining armor to take up the mantle of Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele. A hero to give Leo Messi a reason to smile.
It's going to be either Angel Rodriguez from Getafe or Martin Braithwaite of Leganes.
Happy days are here again.
All the fun gets underway from 5:15PM on beIN SPORTS, beIN SPORTS ESPANOL and the beIN SPORTS XTRA channel - which is subscription free, no strings attached, available in 100 million households joy.