Atalanta 0 – 1 Liverpool (3-1 agg) – The Postmortem

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Atalanta 0 – 1 Liverpool – Breaking Down the Reds’ Europa League Exit

This was a game that was seemingly lost at Anfield, as the arrogance from the 0-3 first leg defeat left too much for Liverpool to overcome. Fatigue and lack of form has spread like wildfire, which made the final European game (as Liverpool manager) for Jürgen Klopp a very painful one.

Below is how the team lined up, with match details following.

Liverpool’s Starting Eleven

Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander Arnold, Ibrahima Konaté, Virgil van Dijk (c), Andy Robertson, Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister, Curtis Jones, Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo, Luis Díaz

Photo: IMAGO

Subs

Darwin Núñez – Mohamed Salah (66 mins), Diogo Jota – Dominik Szoboszlai (66 mins), Harvey Elliott – Luis Díaz (66 mins), Joe Gomez – Trent Alexander Arnold (71 mins), Jayden Danns – Andy Robertson (78 mins)

Goals

Atalanta 0 – 1 Liverpool

Mohamed Salah (Penalty) 7 mins

Important Match Stats

Possession – Atalanta 36% – 64% Liverpool

Total Shots – Atalanta 7 – 10 Liverpool

Crosses – Atalanta 7 – 14 Liverpool

Corner Kicks – Atalanta 2 – 1 Liverpool

Goalkeeper Saves – Atalanta 4 – 2 Liverpool

The First Half

The opening period of this game was perfectly executed, with Liverpool taking an early lead through a well struck Mohamed Salah penalty. That spot kick was created by a Trent Alexander Arnold cross, with a handball allowing an easy decision for the match officials. Unfortunately, momentum and incisive moments were not forthcoming from that ideal start, as Atalanta looked alert and only a late chance in the half was given up to the visiting reds. Mohamed Salah should have doubled the lead, yet his lofted shot came off his shin and drifted wide of an open goal.

Photo: IMAGO

Throughout the first half, Klopp’s men failed to convert half chances or even push the Italians to anywhere close to the limit, as his men largely underwhelmed. It was Alisson Becker once more who offered the most clinical moment, with his brilliant one handed save keeping his side in the hunt at least. Trent was good and his minutes on the pitch will only help the sides chances of domestic glory.

The half limped to a half time lead 0-1 on the night, with so much left to do to create a comeback.

The Second Half

On resumption of the second half, no changes were made, however, it did not take long for the reds German manager to ring a triple change and remove those that were failing to positively impact the game. There seemed to be no real game plan or game altering patterns of play, as heavy possession failed to produce anything not worthy in a turgid period. The inevitable counter attacks of Atalanta were wasted, yet all the home side needed to do was stay mildly resolute against a blunted away attack.

At no point in that disappointing second half did a comeback look even close to feasible, with so many weak performances spreading like a pandemic. The impact and weak showing cannot be repeated against Fulham on Sunday, or this season may already be at its premature end.

Final Thoughts

This was a game that needed brilliance and increased levels of form, which has been missing for several weeks now. the only hope is that the pain of European failure will fuel what is to come and ignite a charge for Premier League success.

Steven Smith

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