Major issues, minor miracles & any hope with 6 to go? – Last word on Atalanta 0-1 Liverpool

There was to be no final European comeback for Liverpool, and with only six games remaining in the season and Jurgen Klopp‘s reign, how do we assess what could still be possible?

Overturning a three-goal deficit was never going to be straightforward for a Liverpool side flagging as they close in on the finishing line, but their first-half at Atalanta offered some hope.

Ultimately, again, they could not score from open play and the penalty was enough for a 1-0 win, a result that will offer mixed feelings as we approach the final six league games.

Here, Joanna Durkan (@JoannaDurkan_) and Matt Ladson (@mattladson) discuss the performance at Atalanta and any lingering league hopes.


Comeback wasn’t to be, can you find any positives?

BERGAMO, ITALY - Thursday, April 18, 2024: Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker before the UEFA Europa League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg match between BC Atalanta and Liverpool FC at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia. Liverpool won 1-0 but Atalanta progress 3-1 on aggregate. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

MATT: Not really! It’s clutching at straws to discuss a clean sheet against a side that just knew they needed not to concede three goals! In fact, it’s a ridiculous thing to cling to.

As for Jurgen saying we’re “back to winning ways” post-match, again it’s nonsense given that the opponent was merely attempting to prevent losing by three goals. It wasn’t a normal football match.

JO: I’m going to be ridiculous, Matt, as the big one for me is a clean sheet! Not since the trip to Forest have we managed that, so it’s at least a step in the right direction.

We all had hoped the comeback could be possible, but the next important thing was for this side not to concede in order to build some confidence for Sunday and beyond.

Having Trent back in the lineup was also nice, some of his passing was outrageous, he’ll be huge for us if this season has any potential left in it.


Klopp commented on the team’s commitment and positive reaction, agree with that assessment?

MATT: Jurgen will always be positive and speak well of his players, which is admirable. I don’t doubt the players’ commitment, but they’re clearly having major issues physically and mentally at the moment.

I don’t think the body language was particularly impressive, and Salah’s miss seemed to completely get in their heads, like the Old Trafford FA Cup defeat has.

JO: Yes and no would be my answer. First half was just what we wanted to see, a real effort to confuse and disrupt their man-marking system.

It fell off a cliff in the second, though, when they reacted in kind and we just looked devoid of ideas and quickly forlorn.

This tie has been all about the moments, if Nunez scores that easy chance in the first leg, if the third goal never went in, if Salah’s dink in Italy finds the net – but we’ve just shot ourselves in the foot at every turn.

I’ve seen some of the reaction to Klopp’s comments and I do find it bemusing, he’s hardly going to throw any of them under the bus when he’s leaving in six games!


With 6 league games to go, do you have any confidence we can make a run at the title?

BERGAMO, ITALY - Thursday, April 18, 2024: Liverpool players line-up for a team group photograph before the UEFA Europa League Quarter-Final 2nd Leg match between BC Atalanta and Liverpool FC at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

JO: What is being a Liverpool fan if you don’t? But I’m probably a bit disillusioned thinking the football gods have something incredible for us in store!

We can only hope things can turn around as quickly as they’ve fallen apart, but Liverpool are really going to have to rally and find that killer instinct if they’re to capitalise on any potential City slip.

But is that even going to happen, history suggests not.

MATT: Even if you kid yourself into thinking City will drop points, can you really see this Liverpool side going and winning six consecutive games?! Especially when three are away from home inside a week. It just isn’t going to happen.

We’ve won four in nine in all competitions; those being against Sparta Prague, Brighton, Sheff United, and an Atalanta side just out to avoid losing 3-0. It would be a minor miracle to win even five of these remaining six.


And who has to start against Fulham on Sunday?

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, April 14, 2024: Liverpool's substitute Diogo Jota replaces Darwin Núñez during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace FC at Anfield. Crystal Palace won 1-0. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

MATT: Elliott and Jota for sure.

Is there any use in playing Nunez? He looks like his head’s gone. Is Endo going to come back in and be better than the last two appearances? So many questions.

If I had to pick an XI now: Alisson; Trent, Quansah, Van Dijk, Robertson; Endo, Mac Allister, Elliott; Salah, Jota, Nunez

JO: I can’t really disagree with you there, Matt. I’d pick the same starting XI.

Nunez looks like he’s checked out, which is really disappointing, and you can only hope Jota’s killer instinct is there for us – we need it.

Three away games in seven days throws up its own problems, but Liverpool can only afford to think one game at a time and go from there.