Reds in touching distance of Champions League last-16 – Liverpool vs. Atalanta Preview

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Liverpool can progress to the last-16 of the Champions League with a win on Wednesday night when Atalanta are the visitors at Anfield.

Liverpool vs. Atalanta

Wednesday, November 25, 2020 – 8pm (GMT)
Anfield
Champions League Group Stage (4)
Referee: Carlos del Cerro Grande (ESP)


The Reds produced an imperious performance against Leicester over the weekend, easing to a 3-0 win on Brendan Rodgers’ return to Anfield.

Many had tipped an injury-plagued Liverpool to struggle against the Foxes but they dominated them from the first minute to the last.

It was another sign that Jurgen Klopp‘s men are the team to beat in England this season, but attention now turns to European action in midweek.

Atalanta head to Merseyside looking to avenge their 5-0 hammering in the reverse fixture in Italy, when Diogo Jota bagged a hat-trick and Liverpool ran riot.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 22, 2020: Liverpool’s manager Jürgen Klopp embraces Andy Robertson after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp knows that victory on Wednesday will guarantee a place in the knockout rounds for another season, while a draw could also be enough to secure qualification.

However, with Liverpool’s squad threadbare it could be that a weakened starting lineup is fielded ahead of Saturday’s trip to Brighton in the Premier League.

This is a side who are brimming with confidence, despite their fitness woes, so there is no reason why Atalanta shouldn’t be seen off once again.

Victory at Anfield will allow Klopp to ease off in the remaining two Group D games, which would be an enviable position to be in.

 

Team News

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, November 22, 2020: Liverpool’s Naby Keita goes down with an injury during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leicester City FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s injuries are showing few signs of easing, with Naby Keita picking up a hamstring issue in the win over Leicester.

It is a bitter blow for the Guinean, who is now set for another spell out of the team.

Keita joins Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as definite absentees for the visit of Atalanta.

Thiago and Jordan Henderson are also expected to miss out once again and did not train on Tuesday, but the hope is that they will be available for the Brighton game.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 24, 2020: Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino (L) celebrates with team-mate Mohamed Salah (R) after the equalising goal from a rebound to level the score at 1-1 during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Sheffield United FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

Mohamed Salah is back after testing negative for COVID-19, acting as a huge boost, and he could return to the side on Wednesday after the manager confirmed his availability.

The 28-year-old’s place in the starting lineup could give Jota, Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino a breather, allowing Klopp to shuffle his attacking pack.

Neco Williams and Kostas Tsimikas are both options at full-back, potentially replacing James Milner and Andy Robertson, while Rhys Williams is available at centre-back.

Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi are other options in the forward line if Klopp wants to make a number of changes in that area.

 

Atalanta

BERGAMO, ITALY - Tuesday, November 3, 2020: Liverpool's Diogo Jota scores the first goal past Atalanta's goalkeeper Marco Sportiello during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Atalanta BC and Liverpool FC at the Stadio di Bergamo. (Pic by Simone Arveda/Propaganda)

Nobody predicted Liverpool to thump Atalanta in the manner they did in their recent meeting, but how have the Serie A side fared since?

A draw at home to Inter Milan was a respectable result in the days after their annihilation by the Reds, before the international break got in the way.

On Sunday, Gian Piero Gasperini’s side could only draw 0-0 away to Spezia, leaving them eighth in the table after eight matches.

In terms of their Champions League prospects, Atalanta are in a precarious position as they sit level on points with Ajax (4).

With the Dutch giants expected to see off Midtjylland on Wednesday evening, Atalanta’s result at Liverpool is clearly vital.

 

Did You Know?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, April 24, 2018: Liverpool's Sadio Mane scores the third goal with team-mates during the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and AS Roma at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Despite some poor results away from home, Liverpool have only lost once at home to a Serie A team in the Champions League – a 2-1 loss at the hands of Fiorentina back in 2009/10.

Their first meeting against an Italian outfit came against Roma in 2001/02, on an emotional night that saw Gerard Houllier return to the dugout after heart surgery.

The Reds prevailed 2-0, qualifying for the quarter-finals in the process.

A famous 2-1 victory over Juventus in the quarters then took place during the historic 2004/05 season, before Inter were beaten 2-0 in the last-16 in 2007/08.

Meanwhile, Roma were thrashed 5-2 in the semis in 2017/18, prior to two group stage matches against Napoli over the following two seasons, which ended 1-0 and 1-1 respectively.

 

Form

Liverpool's Diogo Jota celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at Anfield, Liverpool.

Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)

Won 3-0 vs. Leicester
Drew 1-1 vs. Man City
Won 5-0 vs. Atalanta
Won 2-1 vs. West Ham
Won 2-0 vs. Midtjylland

Atalanta – Last five results (all competitions)

Drew 0-0 vs. Spezia
Drew 1-1 vs. Inter Milan
Lost 5-0 vs. Liverpool
Won 2-1 vs. Crotone
Drew 2-2 vs. Ajax

 

Klopp’s View

Speaking to the press on Tuesday, Klopp expects nothing less than a tough test against a “top” Atalanta outfit:

“Atalanta is a threat without a point to prove, but, of course, the night at Atalanta was a special one and we played exceptionally well and did pretty much everything right, in the right moment and in the right manner.

“So many things came together to win the game in the way that we won it but we know that that game has nothing to do with [Wednesday night].

“That means that we really have to be ready again. Atalanta is a top team and has a special way to play.”

 

TV & Liveblog Info

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, October 27, 2020: A general view of Anfield from the Spion Kop before the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Liverpool FC and FC Midtjylland at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool vs. Atalanta will be shown live in the UK on BT Sport 2, with coverage starting at 7pm (GMT) and kickoff at 8pm.

The always-biased Chris Williams is in charge of This Is Anfield’s matchday live blog, keeping you up-to-date with the action from 7.15pm (GMT).

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