3 things that went badly wrong for Liverpool against Atalanta

The European leg of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool farewell tour is under serious threat.

Few expected Atalanta to leave Anfield with a result in the first leg of their quarter-final on Thursday. Even fewer would have predicted them to run out 3-0 winners.

This was hardly the tonic Liverpool needed to recover from their brutal 2-2 draw away at rivals Manchester United last Sunday, and now their hopes of Klopp ending his reign with one last European trophy are close to going up in smoke.

So what exactly went wrong for Liverpool on Thursday?

Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate

A lackadaisical performance at the back / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

Both Klopp and Virgil van Dijk were quick to hail Atalanta’s unique man-to-man pressing system post-match, but that doesn’t account for Liverpool’s subpar lack of intensity when out of possession.

During their maligned 2022/23 campaign, the Reds were rightfully lambasted for losing that extra edge when defending. Klopp’s sides have never been the sturdiest at the back, but Liverpool’s Premier League and Champions League triumphs under him came when everyone put in an appropriate shift.

Whether it’s down to fatigue or mentality, those problems reared their ugly head on Thursday. Liverpool simply didn’t look like a team that was too fussed about conceding chances, and they only changed their tune when it was too late and they were conceding goals.

Darwin Núñez

A familiar sight / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Alright, I think we can all agree that Darwin Nunez is one of sport’s great entertainers, but this is not the guy you want walking out of the saloon to duel prolific and clinical attacking sides.

Liverpool gave up chances by the boatload but they also made a fair few of their own – they just couldn’t find the net without the offside flag going up.

Scoring has never been a problem under Klopp, but between the frustrating stalemate at United and this three-goal defeat without reply, it’s clear some kind of mental fog has kicked in.

Isak Hien, Cody Gakpo

Liverpool aren’t the team they once were / Richard Sellers/Allstar/GettyImages

When you look at Liverpool’s current squad and compare it to those of years gone by, you admire how Klopp has got them so deep into a title race. You also wonder where it want wrong for their once world-leading recruitment.

There are a lot of expensive players in Liverpool’s current ranks that can’t hold a torch to their relatively cheaper predecessors. Nunez has blown hot and cold. Cody Gakpo has failed to live up to expectation. Dominik Szoboszlai has only shown glimpses of his potential. Even Ibrahima Konate, for as good as everyone knows he can be, is a hugely unreliable fitness bet and routinely needs to shake off rust.

The Liverpool teams of old had clear a structure, identity and pecking order. This iteration may have more strength in depth, but the top-line talent is not as strong.


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