By: Tom Johnson (@TJohnsonLFC)
Following a 2-1 victory over West Ham at the weekend, Liverpool face another quick turnaround as they return to Champions League duties to take on Italian outfit Atalanta B.C.
With two wins from two thus far, three points in Bergamo would all but secure progression to the knockout phase, with three favourable group fixtures still remaining.Embed from Getty Images
The Italian side have also made a positive start, with four points on the board including an impressive 4-0 win away at FC Midtjylland, and a 2-2 draw at home to Ajax last time out.
Who Are Atalanta BC?
Based in Bergamo, northern Italy, Atalanta’s rise to prominence in recent years is considered the golden era.
The club have just one major trophy to their name, 1963 Coppa Italia, and have failed to win the Serie A title. With a 21,000 capacity ground (only this season meeting UEFA requirements), a modest transfer budget and promotion to the top flight less than a decade ago, it is fair to suggest they are no European giant.Embed from Getty Images
However, their performance in recent years has put them firmly on the European football map, with a highly attack-minded playing style catching the eye of many.
Atalanta netted a sensational 98 times in the 19-20 league campaign. Despite that, there is a glaring weakness evident at the back. A fragile defence allowed 48 goals on the way to a 3rd place finish in the most recent campaign.
The Italian side have also failed to keep a clean sheet in 11 of 12 matches so far this term, consequently there should be several goal scoring opportunities for the visitors if they perform well in this one.
Tactics/Players to Watch
Ever since the arrival of Gian Piero Gasperini in 2016 in which the club have reached new heights. The club have stuck with a three at the back formation, mainly operating a 3-4-1-2 or 3-4-2-1.
Atalanta are a possession-based side and look to play from the back, with wing-backs Hans Hateboer and Robin Gosens playing an influential role.Embed from Getty Images
The attacking quartet of Papu Gomez, Josip Ilicic, Duvan Zapata and Luis Muriel netted an impressive 67 times in the last campaign.
Argentine Gomez is the key creative spark that The Reds will need to keep a close eye on with the playmaker providing 16 assists last season.
Atalanta generally strive to outscore their opponents, so we can expect a highly entertaining affair on Tuesday night.
Long-term absentees Virgil Van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remain sidelined, with Thiago Alcantara also still yet to return. However, Joel Matip, Naby Keita and Kostas Tsimikas have all returned to full training.Embed from Getty Images
Centre-back Matip’s return will be of particular relief to the Liverpool boss, with a scarce number of options in that department of late.
It remains to be seen if the trio will be ready to start this one, but their arrivals will be welcomed with a grueling fixture list to come following the international break.
With the encounter coming just three days after West Ham and a trip to the Etihad looming, there could again be rotation particularly in the offensive areas, as we saw last time out against Midtjylland.
Impressive cameos for Xherdan Shaqiri and Diogo Jota at the weekend will see them pushing for a start. The pair will smell blood with a good opportunity to shine against a leaky Atalanta defence.
It is the first ever competitive meeting between the two sides, and with the nature of both teams, it’s a difficult one to predict.
If however the Premier League champions are close to their best, three points and another step to progression to the knockout stage could conceivably be destined for the fourth year in succession.