Two of the finest goalkeepers in football - Alisson Becker and Jan Oblak - come face-to-face when Liverpool lock horns with Atletico Madrid in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 clash.
Liverpool’s rise in form started in the 2017-18 season when they finished runners-up in the UEFA Champions League. After an inspirational run in the tournament, their journey ended in the final though as Real Madrid made a hat-trick of Champions League wins.
One of the major reasons why the Reds could not cross the final line was lack of quality in the goalkeeping department. It was Loris Karius’ howlers in the final that was partly responsible for the Spanish club walking away with the trophy.
The Reds have suffered long for the absence of a big name under the bar. They broke the bank and went an extra mile to sign Brazilian custodian Alisson Becker from AS Roma in the succeeding season.
Becker was an instant success at Anfield. The Reds had an excellent last season where they missed out on winning the Premier League by a whisker and won the UEFA Champions League. A lot of credit goes to Becker whose solid and consistent performances in the back allowed Liverpool to go all out in the attack.
In this season, the Brazilian has further evolved and is now arguably the best goalkeeper in the world. He has kept 10 clean sheets in 18 matches in the Premier League and overall 11 clean sheets in 23 appearances in the season so far.
The Reds are on a roll in this season’s Premier League as they managed to remain unbeaten after 26 matches. They are clear favourites to win the title this season as they already have an astounding 25 points lead at the top of the table. What is more surprising is the numbers of goals they have conceded this season. Just 15! Yes, Liverpool have conceded only 15 goals so far in the league.
Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak is also considered to be one of the best in business in modern times. The 27-year-old Slovenian has been arguably the best player for Diego Simeone’s side in the past few years.
Oblak was most recently named the club’s Player of the Month in January. He has kept 11 clean sheets in 24 La Liga appearances this season so far. Atletico has conceded the second lowest goals (17) this season just behind league leaders Real Madrid.
But the Slovenian custodian cannot be just judged him by his stats. La Rojiblancos have suffered a lot this season with lack of strikers. With Antoine Griezmann leaving for FC Barcelona just before the season and injury to star forward Diego Costa, Simeone’s side has suffered immensely in the attack. But if the Argentine is confident about one position, that is the goalkeeper's.
With two of the finest goalkeeper’s locking horns, the attackers on either side will surely have a tough time in finding the back of the net.