Liverpool vs. Atalanta: 10 key things to know ahead of Europa League clash

Liverpool are back on Europa League duty on Thursday evening, welcoming Serie A side Atalanta to Anfield for the first leg of their quarter-final tie.

Liverpool vs. Atalanta

Europa League Quarter-Final First Leg | Anfield
April 11, 2024 | 8pm (BST)

After a disappointing 2-2 draw away to Man United in the Premier League, focus now turns to European commitments.

Liverpool remain the favourites to go all the way in the Europa League this season, but Atalanta will provide a stern test over two legs.

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


1. Big response needed by wasteful Reds

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 7, 2024: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp applauds the supporters after the FA Premier League match between Manchester United FC and Liverpool FC at Old Trafford. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Sunday’s draw at Old Trafford was infuriating, as Liverpool dropped valuable points in the title race after yet more wasteful finishing.

The Reds cannot afford to feel sorry for themselves, however, and their European adventure continues this week, as Atalanta head to Merseyside.

Jurgen Klopp‘s team will be expected to progress, but they simply must sharpen up in the final third, following such profligacy of late.

An angry performance would be nice, albeit a measured one at the same time.


2. How are Atalanta faring this season?

BERGAMO, ITALY - Tuesday, November 3, 2020: Atalanta's Ruslan Malinovskyi gets away from Liverpool's Curtis Jones during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Atalanta BC and Liverpool FC at the Stadio di Bergamo. (Pic by Simone Arveda/Propaganda)

Atalanta head to Anfield as underdogs, but they are a dangerous side capable of causing anyone problems on their day.

That being said, they are currently languishing in sixth place in Serie A, with Champions League qualification set to evade them.

Atalanta have one away win in their last seven in all competitions, but they have lost only one of their last 10 fixtures away in European competition which should act as a warning to Liverpool.

In the last 16, they got the better of Ruben Amorim’s Sporting CP side, which is further proof of the threat they can pose.


3. Who is injured for Liverpool?

At long last, Liverpool have very few injury problems to contend with, coming at a perfect time.

Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Diogo Jota and Stefan Bajcetic all returned to training on Tuesday, acting as an enormous boost for Klopp.

The manager was coy on their involvement against Atalanta or Crystal Palace on Sunday and only ruled out Bajcetic, so there is a chance they are involved in the squad.

Joel Matip, Thiago and Ben Doak are the only unavailable players.


4. Rotation to be expected?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, March 14, 2024: Liverpool's Harvey Elliott and Cody Gakpo celebrate the sixth goal 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)

Thursday’s game is important, but Klopp also has to have one eye on the Palace game, meaning an element of rotation is required.

Ibrahima Konate could come in for Jarell Quansah, depending on who the manager wants to face the Eagles this weekend, while Joe Gomez may also return to the team.

Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott and Ryan Gravenberch are all options to come into the midfield – Elliott, in particular, deserves a starting berth after so many good cameos this season.

The attack of Mohamed Salah, Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez will likely be broken up, giving Cody Gakpo an opportunity to find some form.

The Dutchman is arguably most likely to replace Nunez.

Predicted Liverpool XI: Kelleher; Bradley, Konate, Van Dijk, Gomez; Endo, Elliott, Jones; Salah, Diaz, Gakpo


5. Who are Atalanta’s key men?

CARDIFF, WALES - Wednesday, June 8, 2022: Netherlands' Teun Koopmeiners (#20) celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the UEFA Nations League Group A4 game between Wales and the Netherlands at the Cardiff City Stadium. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The man who stands out as a key figure for Atalanta is Teun Koopmeiners, who has been linked with a move to Liverpool in recent months.

The midfielder is his side’s leading scorer with 13 goals this season, and his box-to-box ability will be a big threat to the Reds.

Atalanta will likely deploy a 3-4-1-2 formation, with former Arsenal wing-back Sead Kolasinac marauding down the left flank.

Ederson is another influential figure anchoring the midfield, while Ademola Lookman is a player who Liverpool fans know from a spell at Everton.

Predicted Atalanta XI: Musso; Toloi, Djimsiti, Kolasinac; Zappacosta, Ederson, De Roon, Ruggeri; Koopmeiners; Lookman, Scamacca


6. Fans make stand against ticket prices

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, March 14, 2024: Liverpool supporters on the Spion Kop during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and AC Sparta Praha at Anfield. Liverpool won 6-1, 11-2 on aggregate. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Kop is legendary for its endless flags and banners, but things will look very different on Thursday evening.

That’s because there will be none on display due to the fans uniting against the club’s decision to increase ticket prices.

Liverpool announced a two percent rise from next season, scandalously making it look like a positive because it’s “the lowest ticket price rise so far across the Premier League.”

Let’s hope the protests are noticed by the right people.


7. Klopp understands decision to protest

Speaking on Wednesday, Klopp urged the protests not to get in the way of the players and fans, even though he understands the situation:

“It is just a tricky one from my point of view. I didn’t even know until the press conference. The opinion is clear we want to have the people in the stadium and make it available for everybody.

“We are a self-sustaining club, as long as I am here I can tell everyone that every pound we earn went directly back into football. It is not wasted for something, there are a lot of good things that the club is doing like work for the community, but I understand 100 percent where the supporters are coming from.

“I am pretty sure they will find a solution in these situations. It starts with maybe a protest and then there follows discussions and that is good. What we should make sure of is that nothing gets between us and the supporters.

“Discuss it, you are not happy with it, talk about it 100 percent, but nothing should happen between the two big whistles. We just have to be Liverpool and that is what I am asking for.

“It would be worse if the flags were in the stand and no one else. That was once the case, we have had that, and we don’t want that again. This way is ok, they will find a solution I am sure.”


8. Did you know?

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)

Liverpool are looking for their 250th European win on Thursday night, so victory at Anfield will see yet another impressive club milestone reached.

Should they progress, Klopp will set a new Liverpool record of reaching five European semi-finals in charge at Anfield, going clear of Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley on four.

Meanwhile, Liverpool need just five more goals to record 550 at Anfield under the German – can they reach that feat by the end of the week?


9. Who’s the referee at Anfield?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, March 14, 2024: The official match ball during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and AC Sparta Praha at Anfield. Liverpool won 6-1, 11-2 on aggregate. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Halil Umut Meler from Turkey will referee Thursday’s game, with the 37-year-old showing 15 yellow cards and one red in five Champions League games this season.

His only Europa League match was AC Milan’s 4-2 win at home to Sparta Prague last month.

Meler’s assistants at Anfield are compatriots Mustafa Eyisoy and Kerem Ersoy, while the fourth official is Arda Kardesler.

Meanwhile, Turkey’s Alper Ulusoy is on VAR duty.


10. Follow the game with TIA

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, March 14, 2024: Liverpool's crest on a corner flag seen during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and AC Sparta Praha at Anfield. Liverpool won 6-1, 11-2 on aggregate. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Liverpool vs. Atalanta is live on TNT Sports 1 from 7pm (BST), with proceedings at Anfield getting underway at 8pm.

Sam Millne is on TIA matchday live blog duty, keeping you entertained and up to date with all the action from 7.15pm.

Come on you Reds!