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Digging Deeper Into Liverpool’s Defeat To Atalanta

With a loss to Atalanta in the books, we dig a little deeper into what it means for Liverpool.

Liverpool FC v Atalanta BC: Group D - UEFA Champions League Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

It was just one of those days for Liverpool where nothing seemed to work. The Reds suffered their first defeat in nine matches when they lost to Atalanta on Wednesday night in the Champions League. Perhaps it was due to Jurgen Klopp making six changes to the side or perhaps it was just due to happen some time, but Liverpool lost 2-0 to the side from Bergamo. The scoreline flattered the home side as well.

Do you ever have one of those days? So, funny story. You’re reading this column and maybe you’re wondering why it’s coming so late after the game. Let me take you back to about an hour before kickoff. Audun is usually responsible for this column during Champions League matches. He sends a cry for help in the WhatsApp group that his internet is down. No issue, I can cover, I think — until about the 80th minute when my power in my apartment goes out. By that point in time the match was entirely futile, and I have a small chuckle to myself about irony and coincidences and fate and all that is going on.

Liverpool were not good at all against Atalanta. The visitors deserve their victory. But it’s hard to really feel too bad about the Reds losing this match, given just about every year something like this happens in the group stages.

Perhaps I’m too romantic in times like this. It’s not often Liverpool lose a game of footy. It will likely happen many more times this season, given the state of the world and the state of Liverpool’s injuries, but I kind of use it as an opportunity to reflect. Let’s dig deeper into a few thoughts I have on the match.

Dissecting the Narrative

Hospital FC

It’s a bit difficult to navigate around the truth sometimes. Liverpool have been dealt a tough hand this season, given the conditions in which the season is being played in, but also an acutely specific injury crisis. After Liverpool’s last few wins, most recently their 3-0 dismantling of Leicester City on the weekend, I saw posts doing the rounds on social media. These posts usually had a screenshot of some article discussing Liverpool’s circumstances in sensationalized. Words like “Crisis, and “Disaster,” are used to describe Liverpool’s injury situation. The caption of these posts usually have cry-laughing emojis and banterous copy because Liverpool have just defied the odds and won a football match.

The problem is, both things are true. The shear volume of injuries Liverpool do have is not tenable. This will not rear its ugly head in the short term, with some bad game or something like this, but it in the long run. Liverpool needed to field the starting XI they did on Wednesday night because they are in an injury crisis. This can’t be avoided any longer.

There will be more games like the Atalanta one this season. That’s just going to happen. What matters most is how Liverpool responds, and I back the manager and boys to respond well.

They were a bit shit though.

Now that the injury chat is out of the way, it’s okay to talk about how bad Liverpool played. They were absolutely abject throughout the 90 minutes. The backline had never played together. You’re asking James Milner to put in 180 minutes in 3 days. Divock Origi was beyond useless. The list of reasons why they were bad is long.

This team is allowed to be bad every once and awhile. We should treat it like a gift. I think that’s what the Manager will do, anyways. There’s a lot of data that came from the match against Atalanta. Maybe he thinks Origi can’t go through the middle. Maybe he thinks that without Roberto Firmino in the team, the shape needs to be different. Maybe he’s learned a thing or two about who he can partner Rhys Williams with. All I know is that they’ll learn from this and move on.

What Happens Next?

We can’t dwell on this one for too long because Liverpool kicks off against Brighton on Saturday. Which is in about 14 minutes, I think. It is true that a win on Wednesday would’ve put Liverpool through to the knockout stages of the Champions League. It is true that they need at least 3 points from their final two group stage games and Ajax is a tough opponent. But these are the calculations that Jurgen Klopp has to make every day. He knows the broader picture better than anyone else. Do you trust him to figure it out? I do.

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