Liverpool squandered a chance to do it the easy way in the Champions League as they fell to a 2-0 defeat to Atalanta under the Anfield lights.
Liverpool 0-2 Atalanta
Champions League Group Stage (4), Anfield
November 25, 2020
Goals: Ilicic 60′, Gosens 64′
Alisson – 7 (out of 10)
In an otherwise dull and frustrating affair, Alisson had the moment of the first half for the Reds with a strong save at his near post with his quick reflexes denying Robin Gosens.
He patrolled as a sweeper behind an inexperienced defence and as always was quick off his line at any sign of danger. Could do little to stop either of Atalanta’s efforts.
Neco Williams – 5
The 19-year-old, who was making his first start in the Champions League, had an unspectacular night in a makeshift defensive line.
Was culpable of gifting away possession at times when looking to drift in-field but did balance it out with some well-timed challenges in and around the box and the ability to effectively cajole his opponent.
Offensively he didn’t provide much of a threat, over-hitting crosses when given the chance, but it’s all still very much part of his learning curve.
Joel Matip – 6
In what was his first appearance in the Champions League since the opening matchday at Napoli last season, Matip was paired with his fourth different partner of the campaign in just his fifth appearance.
With Atalanta without a clear target man, Matip’s action predominantly came on the floor and on the whole he did well to clear his lines.
Had a mixed night in possession having both gifted to the opposition and set his own team on their way forward. Amazingly, he played the 85 minutes.
Rhys Williams – 6
Occupying the left-sided centre-back position, it was another display where you didn’t question his inexperience or age as he looked assured in and out of possession.
Interceptions and recoveries were the order for much of the day and he was culpable for letting Robin Gosens slip behind him to steer an effort into the net unmarked, a valuable lesson.
Kostas Tsimikas – 6
In what just his third outing and only second start, Reds were able to really cast their eyes over one of the summer additions.
And the left-back made an impression with his front foot and aggressive approach going both ways, giving out as much as received.
With creativity key in his position, Tsimikas showed off his crossing and was the bright spark until his surprise withdrawal at the hour mark just after he let Ilicic take the front position to score.
Gini Wijnaldum – 6
Cleaned up his fair share of messes but was also culpable of creating them alongside his teammates in an abject overall performance from a chopped and changed Liverpool side.
Was rightly a pre-planned substitute at the hour mark after a relentless schedule so far. Not a night to remember but it was not a day for headline performances.
James Milner – 6
A momentous evening for Milner saw him become the club’s oldest player to reach a half-century of European appearances, in yet another example of his incredible long jeopardy.
But he too was susceptible to being off the pace as he, alongside his midfield partners, struggled to take a stranglehold throughout.
As ever you could not question his work ethic but tired and sluggish legs across the pitch proved decisive.
Curtis Jones – 7 (Man of the Match)
The brightest spark in midfield and across the entire pitch having worked tirelessly in both directions to both stop Atalanta in their tracks and create an opening in the attacking half.
Did not hide from the ball as his confidence continues to rise with a consistent place in the side, but could do little to stem the tide and force chance single-handedly as those around him didn’t rise to his level.
Mohamed Salah – 5
It was not the night for Liverpool’s forward players and Salah, on his return to the side, had one of the Reds’ only clear chances – and it’s generous saying that – having found space in the box in the first half before hitting his effort over the crossbar.
The theme of the night was sloppiness and he too was guilty having gifted away possession, but ultimately without space to exploit or time on the ball, there was little hope for him having an influence where it mattered most.
Sadio Mane – 5
You can understand what was a largely lethargic display from the No. 10 having featured heavily for Liverpool this season, the fourth-most of any player.
More influential defensively as Liverpool had little joy in creating space for their forward players and only started to look more lively following the introduction of Diogo Jota.
A quiet and tumultuous night which epitomised the overall performance for the Reds.
Divock Origi – 4
A beneficiary of rotation, Origi was the surprise inclusion ahead of Takumi Minamino and his outing led to more questions than answers, unfortunately.
He was on the receiving end of more than a few fouls, spending more time on the ground than upright, in a sluggish performance which led to any resemblance of forward momentum coming to a grinding halt with his involvement.
A lack of pace, movement and touch proved his downfall as it often has when opportunities come his way and it came as no surprise that he earned a blast from Klopp on the touchline and was withdrawn.
Diogo Jota (on for Salah, 61′) – 6 –
Did look to inject some forward impetus but it was too little too late for the in-form forward to turn the tide.
Robero Firmino (on for Origi, 61′) – 6 –
In a case similar to Jota, would have benefited from being introduced slightly earlier to seize control but had few chances to pull any strings.
Andy Robertson (on for Tsimikas, 61′) – 6 –
Ought to have sat out the entire game such is his the game time already under his belt and had little time to adjust before Atalanta doubled their lead.
Fabinho (on for Wijnaldum, 61′) – 6 –
Entered the fray in midfield before taking over from Matip at the back, the Brazilian saw a fair bit of action in his 30-minute spell as he patrolled at the back.
Takumi Minamino (on for Matip, 85′) – N/A –
It was a shock he wasn’t involved from the off and his late cameo added further insult to injury as he was given no time to push for further opportunities.
Subs not used: Adrian, Kelleher, Koumetio, Cain, Clarkson, Minamino
Jurgen Klopp – 6
Having cast his eye over just 16 outfield players on the eve before the clash, options at Klopp’s disposal were thin and it was navigated somewhat with pre-planned substitutions on the hour mark.
Nevertheless, it was a surprise to see Divock Origi given the nod and it was in no way shape or form vindicated which left many scratching their heads as to what Minamino isn’t showing to be handed an opportunity.
Doing it the easy way is not Klopp’s style and it means that a chance to rotate more heavily in the next Champions League game against Ajax is now off the cards in a blow amid a growing list of injuries and fixtures.
It’s by no means a disastrous result it just makes the road ahead unnecessarily difficult as he carefully manages the game time of his squad both domestically and in Europe.