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Liverpool logo
Europa League | Quarter-Finals | 1st Leg
Apr 11, 2024 at 8pm UK
Anfield
Atalanta logo

Liverpool
0 - 3
Atalanta

FT(HT: 0-1)
Scamacca (38', 60'), Pasalic (83')
Hien (25'), Ruggeri (77')

Preview: Liverpool vs. Atalanta BC - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Liverpool and Atalanta BC, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Facing the sternest examination of their Europa League credentials yet, Liverpool kick off their two-legged quarter-final with Italian powerhouses Atalanta BC at Anfield on Thursday.

The Reds put a staggering 11 goals past Sparta Prague in the last 16 to surge into the quarters, while Gian Piero Gasperini's side edged out Sporting Lisbon, whose head coach seems set to take the Merseyside reins for 2024-25.


Match preview

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp pictured on April 7, 2024© Reuters

While a couple of Liverpool's Europa League sojourns away from Anfield left something to be desired, their first-placed finish in the group stage was never in any serious doubt, as the Reds bypassed a tricky playoff tie with a former Champions League contender to earn a ticket straight to the last 16.

Despite coming under the cosh in the first leg of their knockout contest with Sparta Prague, Klopp's men taught the Czech champions a lesson in ruthlessness with a 5-1 romping away from home, before blowing their foes to smithereens in the Anfield return fixture with an even more emphatic 6-1 success.

Four of Liverpool's goals on that evening were struck in the opening 14 minutes - no side had ever surged into a 4-0 lead as early in a Europa League contest - and the Reds have been rewarded with a third quarter-final appearance in the competition; they progressed from both of their previous two.

However, since they last stood side by side while listening to the continental anthem, Liverpool have been subjected to two doses of Manchester United-inflicted misery - after seeing their quadruple dreams dashed in the FA Cup quarter-finals, a 2-2 Premier League draw on Sunday left them below new leaders Arsenal on goal difference.

Wastefulness in the final third was the defining feature of both of those games against Man United - as it was in the reverse Premier League meeting too - and with a relentless pace being set at the top of the domestic table, Klopp will know that they cannot afford to let many more points slip out of their grasp in the closing weeks of the season.

Liverpool's commitment to attacking remains alive and well in the twilight of Klopp's reign, though - they have scored at least twice in each of their last five games in all tournaments - and the hosts are now out to become just the second team to score at least four goals in five separate UEFA Cup/Europa League contests in a single season, emulating 1964-65 Benfica.

Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini reacts on February 25, 2024© Reuters

Bidding to extinguish Klopp's hopes of one last continental hurrah are the team who eliminated the side led by the German's expected successor, Ruben Amorim, as Atalanta left Sporting Lisbon's turf with a creditable 1-1 draw before doing it the hard way at the Gewiss Stadium in the second leg.

Pedro Goncalves's first-half strike put Sporting in the driver's seat, but Ademola Lookman and Gianluca Scamacca - two men familiar to those of a Premier League persuasion - saved Atalanta's Europa League bacon, sending La Dea through to their third European quarter-final in their last five seasons.

However, the previous two both ended in disappointment for Gasperini's charges, who lost to Paris Saint-Germain at this point in the 2019-20 Champions League and RB Leipzig in the Europa League two seasons ago, and Thursday's visitors do not arrive at Anfield with the wind in their sails.

A 3-0 Serie A beating of faltering champions Napoli followed the second-leg success over Sporting, but La Dea have since been knocked out of the Coppa Italia by Fiorentina before a dampening 2-1 top-flight loss away at Cagliari on Sunday, leaving them sixth in the rankings and eight points off the top four.

Also lauded for their effervescent attacking style under Gasperini, Atalanta's powers have failed them recently - only two of their last nine games in all tournaments have ended in victory - but La Dea did prevail 2-0 at Anfield in the 2020-21 Champions League group stage, albeit only after a chastening 5-0 home loss.

Liverpool Europa League form:


Liverpool form (all competitions):


Atalanta BC Europa League form:


Atalanta BC form (all competitions):


Team News

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker goes down injured on November 25, 2023© Reuters

None of Liverpool's seven injury victims should be passed fit for the first leg of their quarter-final, although Alisson Becker (thigh), Trent Alexander-Arnold (knee) and Diogo Jota (knee) are expected to take part in partial training this week and could make their comebacks against Crystal Palace this weekend.

Joel Matip (knee), Ben Doak (knee) and Thiago Alcantara (muscle) are longer-term absentees, as is Stefan Bajcetic and his troublesome calf problem, but the Spaniard has come through Under-21s training without any problems and is edging closer to a first-team return.

While Jarell Quansah should not be demoted solely because of his costly error against Man United, Klopp will likely prefer the experience of Ibrahima Konate at the back, while Cody Gakpo and Joe Gomez may freshen the Reds up too.

As for Atalanta, only highly-rated centre-back Giorgio Scalvini - believed to be on Man United's radar - should be missing through injury this week; the 20-year-old recently hurt his hamstring and is also expected to sit out the return fixture in Italy next week.

Gasperini otherwise has a full troupe of players available after Charles De Ketelaere shook off an adductor issue to come off the bench in the recent loss to Cagliari, but the Belgian is already behind two names for a start in the number 10 position.

Indeed, Aleksey Miranchuk set up both of Atalanta's second-leg strikes against Sporting and has certainly put his name in the hat, but Teun Koopmeiners - linked with a summer move to Liverpool - will likely act as the visitors' chief creator, despite recently confirming that he has asked to leave the club.


Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Kelleher; Gomez, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Szoboszlai, Endo, Mac Allister; Salah, Gakpo, Diaz

Atalanta BC possible starting lineup:
Musso; Toloi, Djimsiti, Kolasinac; Zappacosta, Ederson, De Roon, Ruggeri; Koopmeiners; Lookman, Scamacca


SM words green background

We say: Liverpool 3-1 Atalanta BC

Fans can expect sparks to fly between two outfits with an unwavering devotion to fast-paced offensive football, but Atalanta have been found wanting more often than not in recent weeks, especially away from their Bergamo home.

Liverpool's vulnerabilities at the back should at least lead to some joy in front of goal for Gasperini's men, but they could end up being overwhelmed at the other end of the field as Klopp's crop arrive in Italy for leg two with a healthy lead to protect.


For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.


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Game History

How you voted: Liverpool vs Atalanta

Liverpool
88.3%
Draw
6.6%
Atalanta BC
5.1%
274
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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp pictured on March 17, 2024
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Group A

TeamPWDLPTS
QWest Ham650115
QFreiburg640212
3Olympiacos62137
4Backa Topola60151

Group B

TeamPWDLPTS
QBrighton641113
QMarseille632111
3Ajax61235
4AEK Athens61144

Group C

TeamPWDLPTS
QRangers632111
QSparta Prague631210
3Betis63039
4Aris Limassol61144

Group D

TeamPWDLPTS
QAtalanta642014
QSporting Lisbon632111
3Sturm Graz61144
4Rakow61144

Group E

TeamPWDLPTS
QLiverpool640212
QToulouse632111
3Union SG62228
4LASK61053

Group F

TeamPWDLPTS
QVillarreal641113
QRennes640212
3M. Haifa61235
4Panathinaikos61144

Group G

TeamPWDLPTS
QSlavia Prague650115
QRoma641113
3Servette61235
4Sheriff Tiraspol60151

Group H

TeamPWDLPTS
QB. Leverkusen660018
QQarabag631210
3Molde62137
4Hacken60060


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