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Atalanta logo
Europa League | Quarter-Finals | 2nd Leg
Apr 18, 2024 at 8pm UK
Gewiss Stadium
Liverpool logo

Atalanta
0 - 1
Liverpool


Hien (43'), Koopmeiners (77'), Zappacosta (90+1'), Zappacosta (90+1')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Salah (7' pen.)

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

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

Staring down the barrel of Europa League elimination, Liverpool have a mountainous hill to climb when they visit the Gewiss Stadium for the second leg of their quarter-final with Atalanta BC on Thursday night.

La Dea left Anfield dumbstruck with an astonishing 3-0 success in last week's opening fixture, although the Reds are no strangers to overturning seemingly unassailable deficits on the continent.


Match preview

Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini on April 11, 2024© Reuters

Fresh from dumping out a team led by a potential future Liverpool manager in Ruben Amorim's Sporting Lisbon, Atalanta returned to English shores for a three-year reunion with the Reds, whom they memorably managed to conquer at Anfield in the 2020-21 Champions League group stage.

Thanks in no small part to the worrying wastefulness of Jurgen Klopp's side, Gian Piero Gasperini's crop incredibly managed to better their 2-0 behind-closed-doors success, as Gianluca Scamacca's brace and Mario Pasalic's finish sent the travelling Atalanta faithful into pandemonium.

Two players who failed to come good in the Premier League, Scamacca and Pasalic helped La Dea inflict Liverpool's joint-heaviest European home defeat upon them last week, and no other team has won both of their first two continental away matches against the six-time European champions.

Liverpool's penchant for breathtaking turnarounds means that Gasperini's men are far from home and hosed, but from 132 previous instances, no Europa League/UEFA Cup team has ever been eliminated from the tournament after winning the first leg of a knockout tie by at least three goals away from home.

Atalanta were unable to carry last Thursday's momentum forward to the weekend's Serie A battle with Hellas Verona, though - letting a 2-0 lead slip in a 2-2 home draw - and the shock beating of Liverpool represents only the hosts' third win from their last 11 contests across all competitions.

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

Gasperini's men should not be asking Calcio counterparts AC Milan or Barcelona for pointers on how to avoid multiple-goal capitulations against Liverpool, but if the Reds' recent profligacy is anything to go by, Atalanta can simply hope for their visitors to be their own worst enemies once again.

After failing to convert a multitude of opportunities on April 11, Liverpool's springtime plight continued in a similarly agonising Premier League home beating at the hands of Crystal Palace on Sunday, where Eberechi Eze condemned the Reds to their first top-flight home loss in nearly 18 months.

Suffering successive defeats for the first time since a run of three in March/April 2023, the top-flight crown is now out of Liverpool's hands as Manchester City lead the way at the summit, leading some of the Reds faithful to join their Arsenal counterparts in declaring the title race a foregone conclusion.

As well as their aversion to finishing big chances, Liverpool have now gone nine games without a clean sheet in all tournaments, but a run of four straight away games should be welcomed with open arms by a Reds team that have scored in all of their road fixtures in the 2023-24 season so far.

It has been just over 12 months since Klopp's men were last shut out on the road against Chelsea last April, and their only previous visit to Atalanta in the 2020-21 Champions League ended in an emphatic 5-0 success, so another mind-boggling resurgence is certainly not beyond the realms of possibility.

Atalanta BC Europa League form:


Atalanta BC form (all competitions):


Liverpool Europa League form:


Liverpool form (all competitions):


Team News

Liverpool's Conor Bradley reacts after sustaining an injury on April 14, 2024© Reuters

As well as hamstring victim Giorgio Scalvini - who is also expected to sit out Thursday's second leg - Atalanta's defensive ranks were further ravaged before the Anfield beatdown, as ex-Arsenal man Sead Kolasinac picked up an adductor problem.

However, the Bosnia-Herzegovina international was back on the bench for the weekend's visit of Verona, where Marten de Roon missed out on account of a yellow-card suspension, but the experienced Dutchman is now back at Gasperini's disposal.

As a result, only Scalvini should be absent from the Atalanta squad this week, and De Roon's timely return will likely see the 33-year-old shoe-horned into a three-man defensive wall with Berat Djimsiti and Isak Hien, as was the case at Anfield. Davide Zappacosta is back from a Serie A ban too, and should start on the right.

While the hosts' rearguard ranks will be reinforced this week, Liverpool will likely have to make do without young right-back Conor Bradley, who overstretched his foot in the loss to Palace and had to be helped off the field by medics.

The 20-year-old has been ruled out for a couple of weeks, so Trent Alexander-Arnold should now be primed for his first start since recovering from a knee injury, while Stefan Bajcetic has not been summoned, despite returning to action for the Under-21s last week.

Ben Doak (knee), Joel Matip (knee) and Thiago Alcantara (muscle) remain out, but Alisson Becker and Diogo Jota have also battled back from their afflictions in recent weeks; the latter is a candidate to replace Luis Diaz or Darwin Nunez, whose big chance conversion rate of 19.4% is the worst in Europe's top-five leagues.


Atalanta BC possible starting lineup:
Musso; De Roon, Djimsiti, Hien; Zappacosta, Pasalic, Ederson, Ruggeri; Koopmeiners; Scamacca, De Ketelaere

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Szoboszlai, Mac Allister, Elliott; Salah, Jota, Diaz


SM words green background

We say: Atalanta BC 2-3 Liverpool (Atalanta win 5-3 on aggregate)

Needing to go gung-ho in order to stand a chance of reaching the semi-finals, the time is nigh for Liverpool to rediscover their cutting edge - which the ice-cool Jota should certainly help to provide - and Atalanta's domestic defending has often left a lot to be desired.

Gasperini's men have always been heralded for their scintillating offensive play, though, and while Liverpool might manage a consolation win on the night, Atalanta can capitalise on gaps opening up to ensure that Klopp will leave Anfield without ever lifting the Europa League trophy aloft.


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


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How you voted: Atalanta vs Liverpool

Atalanta BC
31.2%
Liverpool
68.8%
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Liverpool's Conor Bradley reacts after sustaining an injury on April 14, 2024
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