The media lauded Diogo Jota‘s hat-trick performance and assessed Liverpool were “back to their very best” in the 5-0 demolition of Atalanta.
The Reds produced a masterclass in Italy to make it three wins from three and take full control of Champions League Group D.
If recent performances had not been convincing, Liverpool exploded back to their best levels in Bergamo, and with perfect timing ahead of Sunday’s trip to Man City.
As you would expect, the display earned heaps of praise from the media and here’s all the key analysis from a perfect night.
Reporters saw Liverpool were “back to their very best” thanks to a throwback, blitzing attacking display…
The Mail’s Martin Samuel was mightily impressed by a “quite stunning performance”, labelling the Reds “exceptional” in all departments:
This was a quite stunning performance, against opponents who were a heartbeat away from the final four in this competition last August. Atalanta were taken apart, not just by Jota, but by a Liverpool team that is beginning to hit its stride after the trauma at Villa Park.
The forwards were exceptional, obviously, but there were fine performances all over the field.
Writing for Goal, Neil Jones assessed that this was Klopp’s side “back to their very best”:
This was Liverpool back to their very best; organised and aggressive, too sharp and too quick for their shell-shocked opponents.
They dominated from the first whistle. And when the chances came, they were utterly lethal.
The Liverpool Echo’s Paul Gorst wrote how the performance “bore all the hallmarks of a 17/18 vintage” as the Reds blitzed the Serie A side:
This was a throwback of a performance. Back to a time when the flick was switched and Liverpool took the game away from their opponents in a flash.
It bore all the hallmarks of a 17/18 vintage as the rampant Reds put their Italian hosts to the sword with a ruthless display that offered more than a little reminder to the rest of Europe of this team’s power. The 2019 winners of this competition were simply too quick, too strong and too clever for their hosts on the night.
The victory was “one of Klopp’s best ever European wins”, in the view of ESPN’s Tom Fenton:
Overall, this was a remarkably complete European display from the Reds.
This was unquestionably one of the German manager’s best away wins in Europe.
The Guardian’s Andy Hunter commented on how Atalanta couldn’t cope with Liverpool’s directness and how the Reds made last season’s quater-finalists look “European novices”:
Klopp’s team stretched the Italian side with long, first-time balls and were given so much space to dominate in midfield by a passive, clumsy opponent.
Liverpool did not allow it, and the Italians’ were made to resemble European novices as the visitors cruised through the contest and sliced them apart almost at will.
The media praised Liverpool for dominating the group, noting how this will help the Reds compete on all fronts…
The Independent’s Melissa Reddy lauded how the Reds made such light work of what was billed as the toughest game in the group:
And so welcome to Atalanta, where Liverpool’s expected toughest game in their Champions League group saw them absolutely dismantle the hosts with an attacking display of the highest quality, powered by their new signing.
The opponents were billed as unwelcome as a dentist appointment, but the discomfort and displeasure was all theirs.
The Mirror’s Mark Jones applauded Klopp’s men for cruising to the brink of qualifcation despite the hugely testing circumstances faced:
Given that this was already Liverpool’s best start to a Champions League season under Klopp after they’d won two from two, the fact that they have now, to all intents and purposes, pretty much secured qualification to the knockout stages must be an incredible feeling for the German.
In this of all seasons, and with options around him dwindling, the Reds have been able to serenely navigate their way through a group which wasn’t without its difficulties on paper.
The Mail’s Dominic King praised the Reds for putting themselves in a great position to qualify early, thus relieving pressure of the relentless schedule to aid the title charge:
With home games against Atalanta and Ajax to come, Klopp will surely be in a position to rest his big guns for the trip to Denmark in December and the final fixture against FC Midtyjlland.
Klopp is managing this squad physically more than anything else at the minute and getting qualification done and dusted so early will be immense.
While this result more than served its purpose in all but guaranteeing Liverpool’s progression to the last 16 of the Champions League, it was also the perfect preparation for Sunday’s trip to the Etihad Stadium for a Premier League clash with rivals Manchester City.
Sunday’s meeting should be an intriguing one, and Klopp and his players will now enter it with as much confidence as they could reasonably expect to conjure.
Journalists hailed hat-trick hero Jota and feel Klopp faces a big decision ahead of the Man City clash…
First of all, Samuel hailed the Anfield recruitment team as “the finest in European football” for finding a player in Jota who can offer the one thing Firmino doesn’t:
The finest recruitment policy in European football has worked wonders again. It looked hard to improve on the Liverpool of 2019-20, but somehow they found a way. Diogo Jota has been a revelation for the club, goals in four consecutive games, and now a first hat-trick. How do they do it?
Firmino was never prolific, but his wider contribution outweighed that. […] If a hard-working central striker could be found, one that could score regularly, Liverpool would become even more dangerous. And Liverpool’s recruiters identified Jota.
The Liverpool Echo’s Ian Doyle believes Jota will prove to be as good a signing as Mane and Salah:
Just how were Liverpool allowed to sign Diogo Jota from Wolverhampton Wanderers for an initial £41million?
Given only three players have cost more in the Reds’ history, it’s not an insignificant sum. But even on this early evidence it appears as impressive a piece of business as the money spent on Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
Jones labelled Jota’s performance “one of the great European performances” and, looking ahead to Sunday, thinks the hat-trick hero should start:
Six weeks into his Liverpool career, he is already undroppable. […] Preferred to Roberto Firmino, the 23-year-old delivered one of the great European performances.
Surely Jota must start at the Etihad? We should never underestimate Firmino’s importance to the side – he’ll come again, make no mistake – but nights like this simply cannot be ignored. If this was an audition for City, then Jota got the part.
The Mirror’s David Maddock wrote in disbelief at Jota’s start, labelling it “the stuff of legend” before lauding how the in-form signing is so cool in front of goal:
In the space of 10 days, he has scored SIX goals in four different games. And provided the match-winning contribution in three of those contests. They are insane figures, the stuff of legend.
And crucially, they have won every game since losing Virgil van Dijk. What Jota has shown, which will excite the fans the most, is ice in his veins.
Fenton awarded Jota a full 10/10 and believes that Firmino should drop to the bench “for the foreseeable future”:
An inspired display, one that will surely drop Firmino to the bench for the foreseeable future. His hat trick was Fernando Torres-esque, demonstrating the kind of composure in front of goal that the Brazilian has featured since arriving at Anfield. Simply sensational.
However, Samuel thinks Klopp will revert to the traditional trio, citing Firmino’s “ferocious” defensive work will earn the Brazilian the nod at the Etihad:
Klopp may still play Firmino in games where ferocious defence is key – perhaps against Manchester City on Sunday – but Jota’s form is making him close to irresistible right now.
Meanwhile, Gorst thinks Liverpool will eventually enjoy the best of both worlds, as Jota’s stunning form will give Firmino a wake-up call to rediscover his best levels:
A somewhat below par Roberto Firmino has most certainly been given a shrill wake-up call by Jota’s impact these past couple of weeks and the Brazilian cannot take anything for granted going forward. That can only be a good thing for Liverpool.
Members of the media were also impressed with several other Reds on the night…
In among the clammer for Jota, Jones also found time to praise Mane and Salah for just continuing to perform to the highest levels:
Maybe it is because of Jota’s form, or perhaps for one or two other reasons, but the outstanding performances from Salah and Mane this season don’t seem to have quite registered on the collective consciousness as they could have done.
The old hands have still got it though, and the way they took the game away from their opponents at the start of the second half was nothing short of ruthless.
Hunter was particulaly impressed with Curtis Jones:
Maddock thought Klopp excelled too, noting how the boss got his tactics spot on in deploying maximum pace in attack to exploit Atalanta’s slow and dangerously-high line:
Klopp deserves special praise for his tactical approach to what looked an incredibly tough fixture. [..] He realised Atalanta would be open, and so gave his three quickest players the freedom of a totally fluid front line.
It worked like a dream, Jota using the space provided by the movement from inside to out by both Mane and Salah to burst through the middle at will. All his goals came from this simple tactic, and it destroyed the Italians.
Reporters explained how the victory gave a demonstration of Liverpool’s continued evolution…
The Telegraph’s Chris Bascombe detailed how we are witnessing the “evolution of Liverpool’s strikeforce” with Jota “reuinting” Liverpool’s ‘Fab Four’:
Diogo Jota has picked up the rhythm of playing for Jurgen Klopp even more swiftly than his illustrious attacking peers, striking a 55 minute Champions League hat-trick to announce the evolution of the Premier League’s world-renowned strikeforce.
After the destruction of Atalanta, we can now officially declare it the reuniting of Liverpool’s ‘Fab Four’.
That now, three years on, Williams and Jones are part of that first-team owes a little to the former club captain, a little to Klopp and a lot to two players who are growing in stature with each passing week.
Williams and Jones – two players born in the same week in early 2001, and mentored by a man who was in the thick of the action almost two decades ago – might well end up having big parts to play in that future. They’ve got a part to play in the present too though, and more opportunities will deservedly come their way.
Fenton felt both youngsters showed they are “accomplished and comfortable at this level”:
Furthermore, the sides’ academy graduates — Curtis Jones and Rhys Williams — both looked accomplished and comfortable at this level, Jones almost scoring, while Williams read the game excellently from central defence.
And finally, Bascombe labelled centre-back Williams “a star in the making”:
If Jota’s prolific start offers reassuringly thrilling options, Klopp was equally thrilled with what he saw at the other end where 19-year-old Rhys Williams – still awaiting a Premier League debut – made his third Champions League appearance.
He too looks a star in the making, playing with a calmness which belied his inexperience.