Liverpool’s match against Atalanta in the Champions League wasn’t a must win game and with manager Jürgen Klopp sending out a heavily changed side, in the end the players put in a performance that seemed to suggest they knew as much.
Having just come off a demolition of title aspirants Leicester City over the weekend, the Reds were painfully flat against Atalanta in a game that would have been nice to win but wasn’t necessary. Now, though, they will need to show a reaction.
“We know it was a poor performance, pretty flat,” veteran James Milner said following Wednesday evening’s 2-0 defeat in the Champions League. “Obviously lot of changes again and we just never got going tonight, which is disappointing.
“I think there were a lot of players who haven’t played together and the schedule is busy, we keep saying it. Sometimes you just have to try to get a win without being at your best and maybe not having the level that we would like to have.
“We couldn’t do that tonight. We didn’t create enough, didn’t keep the ball enough, we just didn’t have that sharpness really so it’s disappointing. But we’re still top of the group so we have to recover and go again at the weekend, another big game.”
In Europe, the Reds need three points from their final two games to clinch a place in the knockout rounds. Four points would clinch first. Things are a lot tighter in the league, though, where they now turn their attention ahead of Saturday.
Roughly a quarter of the way in, the top of the table is as congested as the fixture list—while opponents Brighton will see the Reds’ short turnaround from Wednesday and dream of a famous victory to claw themselves away from relegation places.
“We just need to get over this pretty quickly,” Milner added. “Look where we can improve and go again.”