Atalanta vs. Liverpool: 10 key things to know as Reds seek European 1st

With their Europa League hopes hanging by a thread, Liverpool know they have to produce their latest European miracle to progress past Atalanta.

Atalanta vs. Liverpool

Europa League quarter-final second leg | Gewiss Stadium
April 18, 2024 | 8pm (BST)

The Reds head to Italy for Thursday night’s game looking to do something special following last week’s insipid 3-0 loss at Anfield.

This season is threatening to peter out, both in Europe and the Premier League, but this side have shown they can overcome adversity in the past.

Here’s all you need to know ahead of the action.


1. Can Liverpool produce another miracle?

Granted, progressing past Atalanta wouldn’t be on the same level as the Champions League triumph against Barcelona in 2019, but it would still be memorable.

Very few saw Liverpool’s lifeless performance coming last Thursday, but they are still the superior team and have to believe they can produce a stunning comeback.

An early goal for the Reds would immediately make Atalanta twitchy although, on the flip side, yet another opener conceded by Liverpool would effectively end the tie.

We can all dream!


2. Atalanta slipped up on Monday!

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, April 11, 2024: Atalanta's Teun Koopmeiners (L) and Liverpool's captain Virgil van Dijk during the UEFA Europa League Quarter-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and BC Atalanta at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool need as much encouragement as they can get and Atalanta may have offered them hope in recent days.

On Monday night, Gian Piero Gasperini’s side blew a 2-0 lead at home to Verona in Serie A, conceding twice in four minutes, dropping key points in the top-four battle.

The hope is that Atalanta’s legs are weary, having played 24 hours later than Liverpool, allowing Klopp’s side to take advantage.


3. Who’s out injured for Liverpool?

Liverpool appear to be allergic to suffering no new injury problems and that has again proved to be the case in recent days.

Conor Bradley is out of Thursday’s game with an ankle injury. The Northern Irishman is expected to be out for the next three weeks.

It is now a case of getting returning key players back into peak form, including Trent Alexander-Arnold and Diogo Jota.

Joel Matip, Thiago and Ben Doak are all still out and may not feature again this season.


4. How will Liverpool start?

Klopp will have one eye on Sunday’s trip to Fulham in the league, so changes are to be expected from the Crystal Palace game.

Some players are arguably worthy of being axed, in truth.

Ibrahima Konate was poor on Sunday and could be replaced by Jarell Quansah, especially if Klopp wants to save the Frenchman for Fulham.

Wataru Endo and Alexis Mac Allister need a breather in midfield, with Harvey Elliott and Ryan Gravenberch options to potentially come in.

Cody Gakpo has been a rare positive over the past two matches and has surely done enough to start, potentially coming in for Darwin Nunez.

Predicted Liverpool XI: Alisson; Gomez, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Mac Allister, Elliott, Szoboszlai; Salah, Jota, Diaz


5. Will Atalanta be unchanged?

Perhaps surprisingly, Gasperini named an unchanged starting lineup against Verona, asking his players to go again.

Now, it will be intriguing to see how Atalanta line up against Liverpool, with three successive unchanged sides in a week a big risk.

The Serie A outfit admittedly don’t have the Reds’ depth, however, so it can’t be ruled out. There are no fresh injury problems for Atalanta, which is an enviable position to be in.


6. Fewer than 1,000 away fans in Italy

BERGAMO, ITALY - Wednesday, April 17, 2024: A general view of the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia ahead of the UEFA Europa League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg match between BC Atalanta and Liverpool FC. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool will be roared on by their travelling fans in Italy, but there will be a minimal amount of supporters present which is a shame.

In fact, less than 1,000 away fans will be present at the Gewiss Stadium, with just 750 tickets allocated.

That’s due to two factors.

Firstly, the size of Atalanta’s ground, which has a capacity of only 21,000 but is limited to 16,000 currently because of work being done on the stadium.

The other issue is that Liverpool take a number of tickets for family, staff and sponsors, further limiting the amount.


7. Liverpool’s poor record of second-leg away comebacks

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 10, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Europa League Quarter-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and BC Atalanda. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool’s 3-0 defeat has given them a massive amount of work to do as they look to overcome the first-leg deficit, and the past doesn’t bode well for the Reds.

They have lost four first-leg ties at Anfield in European competition, to Leeds (1971), Chelsea (2009), Real Madrid (2023) and Atalanta last week, and progressed to the next round from none of them.

Liverpool have lost both legs of a knockout tie just eight times – Ferencvaros (1967), Red Star Belgrade (1973), Genoa (1992), Spartak Moscow (1992), Celta Vigo (1998), Benfica (2006), Atletico Madrid (2020) and Real Madrid (2023).


8. Did You Know?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, April 4, 2024: Liverpool's Darwin Núñez celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Sheffield United FC at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Nunez has faced some criticism lately, much of which has been fair, but he could still be a pivotal figure for the Reds on Thursday.

The 24-year-old can join some illustrious company from Liverpool history, should he find the net against Atalanta.

Nunez has scored nine goals in 17 European appearances for Liverpool – the fastest to 10 for the club are Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane (both 13), Robbie Fowler (16) and Roger Hunt (18).

Nunez has netted five times for the Reds in the Europa League this season – more than anyone else.


9. Francois Letexier is the referee

HERNING, DENMARK - Wednesday, December 9, 2020: Referee Franc?ois Letexier checks a VAR review before awarding FC Midtjylland a penalty during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between FC Midtjylland and Liverpool FC at the Herning Arena. (Pic by Lars Møller/Propaganda)

Francois Letexier has been confirmed as the referee for Liverpool’s trip to Atalanta.

The Frenchman has only taken charge of one Reds game in the past, overseeing the 1-1 draw away to Midtjylland back in the 2020/21 season.

Letexier only showed one yellow card to a Liverpool player, booking Caoimhin Kelleher, as Salah’s opener was cancelled out.

Cyril Mugnier and Mehdi Rahmouni are Letexier’s assistants. Pierre Gaillouste is the fourth official while Jerome Brisard and Willy Delajod are on VAR.


10. Follow the match with TIA

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, March 14, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and AC Sparta Praha at Anfield. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Atalanta vs. Liverpool is live on TNT Sports 1 from 7pm (BST) on Thursday, with kickoff at 8pm.

Sam Millne is in the chair for TIA’s matchday live blog, hoping to guide you through Liverpool’s latest European epic.

Come on you Reds!