“We were wide open” – Virgil van Dijk criticises “individual mistakes” vs. Atalanta

After Liverpool lost 3-0 to Atalanta in the Europa League, Virgil van Dijk admitted the Reds “were wide open” and criticised “individual mistakes” from his team.

Liverpool’s first defeat at Anfield for nearly 14 months was a tough one to take, with the Reds now needing an incredible performance in Bergamo to go through to the semi-finals.

Speaking to TNT Sports, captain Van Dijk admitted it was a “very disappointing evening” with “too many individual mistakes” costing Liverpool.

The Dutchman explained: “I think obviously, with the man-marking system they do, we have to do much better when we have the ball. We have to keep the ball longer.

“We have to focus on Crystal Palace, we have to bounce back. We have to keep the ball longer and stronger and they won the 50-50 challenges most of the time. Spaces were open. Obviously they punished us immediately and that’s what happens.”

Liverpool had 70 percent of the ball but were far less effective than Atalanta in possession – the visitors had seven big chances according to Fotmob.

Van Dijk continued: “We were wide open but it’s more that we conceded the goals because we lost the balls in difficult moments, and that’s why we were wide open.

“It’s a collective thing in the end and we have to do much better and we all know this. It hurts like I said, but can’t pull us down and we have to react pretty quickly.

“It hurts, of course we didn’t lose here for a long time, but credit to them. We shouldn’t take the credit to them away.

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)

“They punished us or being sloppy especially in possession and obviously we still had chances to do it, to score at least one or two. Unfortunately we didn’t.”

Things didn’t go well at either end of the pitch tonight for Liverpool. It was only the second time this season they have failed to score, something Van Dijk was clearly frustrated about.

Liverpool need to re-find their form against Crystal Palace on Sunday, to keep them in the Premier League title race and gain some momentum ahead of the second leg.