Atalanta vs Liverpool
| Tuesday, November 3rd |
Champions League | Stadio di Bergamo
8PM BST / 3PM EST
With another international break less than a week away, the Reds head into final stretch of this particular run of congested fixtures, looking to cement top spot in both domestic and continental competition.
For those of us who remember — woefully — the days of facing Chelsea nine times a season in all competitions, this Champions League campaign has been a wonderful collection of novelties. After traveling to Amsterdam and taking on Ajax for the first time in five decades, the Reds hosted Midtjylland in their very first run in Europe, and now Jürgen Klopp will take his boys to Bergamo for the first time in club history.
The darlings of neutral football fans in recent seasons, Atalanta play a spectacular brand of high-intensity, attacking football, not entirely dissimilar to Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds, and it has served them tremendously well, taking them to consecutive third place finishes in the Serie A, the semi finals of the Coppa Italia last year, and the quarter finals of the Champions League this summer. For a team whose honours in its 113-year history consist of a single domestic cup win, that is remarkable, and one hopes they can add to their trophy cabinet before the current squad ages out.
La Dea currently sit fourth in their domestic league, having lost twice and conceded 13 goals in their opening six fixtures, but are in a strong position in Group D, two points behind the Reds, following a thumping of Midtjylland in the opening round and a home draw with Ajax last week.
Having rested Duván Zapata and giving the returning Josip Iličić a run-out at the weekend, Gasperini should be able to field all of his best attackers against the Reds, but will be somewhat light at the back, with Hans Hateboer, Marten de Roon and Robin Gosens all set to miss out with injuries. In any event, Liverpool fans should be prepared for a high-stress, back-and-forth affair.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Gomez, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson, Milner; Mané, Jota, Salah
Atalanta are not alone in struggling with injury absences, of course, and Liverpool have their fair share, but Joël Matip is reportedly back in full training and could be in contention to start for the first time since the Merseyside derby a few weeks ago. Fabinho remains unavailable, while Kostas Tsimikas has traveled with the squad, even if the Greek fullback is unlikely to spell Andrew Robertson quite yet.
In midfield, Thiago has remained at Anfield, while Naby Keita is once more back in full training and in contention to play in Bergamo. Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum and James Milner are all available, even if the latter is only one booking away from suspension from European competition.
Up top, a combination of quality depth and flagging form could potentially see a shake-up occur, with Roberto Firmino the attacker most likely to get a rest. Diogo Jota scored his third consecutive goal — and his second game-winner in a week — at the weekend and could be in line for a start, while Xherdan Shaqiri’s sudden burst of form makes the Swiss international a genuine alternative for the first time in 18 months or so.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “[Atalanta are] very good; top, top players; top recruitment; very, very well organised; play their system with 100 per cent conviction, they know exactly what everybody has to do.”
Gian Piero Gasperini: “Jürgen Klopp is a point of reference for all coaches, it is an honour for us to face them.”
The Officials (ROU)
Referee: Ovidiu Haţegan
Assistant referees: Octavian Șovre, Sebastian Gheorghe
Fourth official: Sebastian Colţescu
VAR: Juan Martínez Munuera (ESP), István Kovács
Kickoff is set for 8PM GMT/3PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.