Liverpool hosts Italian side Atalanta BC on Wednesday night for a Champions League fixture. This will be very important fixture for both sides, Liverpool will secure the next round qualification with 3 points and Atalanta will be in dire condition if they lose at Anfield.
Premier League champions enter this fixture after thrashing Leicester City on Sunday by 3-0. The Reds now sits at 2nd position in the league table, level on points with leaders Tottenham Hotspur. Atalanta on other hand visits Anfield with just 1 win in the last six fixtures in overall competitions.
Preview: Liverpool vs Atalanta BC
The home side will be on high morale for this top clash, after beating the top team of the domestic league with key players missing. Injury issues and Covid-19 cases have been a regular part of Merseyside giants this season. Liverpool players against Foxes with eight first-team players missing.
Three regular defensive players out of the back-four have been sidelined to injuries. In midfield, skipper Jordan Henderson missed the last fixture with a minor injury alongside Thiago Alcantara. In attack, star forward Mohamed Salah was unavailable due to tested positive for Covid-19 last week. But nothing has stopped them from topping both domestic and continental competitions this season.
In the Champions League campaign, they are at the top in their Group D, winning all three matches. They also managed to keep a clean sheet in all fixtures, and so remains the only team in Europe to do so. At away fixture in Bergamo, they recorded history with 5-0 victory, became only English team to win in Italy by that margin.
A win on Wednesday will be enough for manager Jurgen Klopp to qualify for the first knockout round. That will give them two games to rest key players, to keep them fresh and fit for busy Premier League fixtures.
Atalanta BC needs a point at least to remain alive in continental football, they sit at 3rd position, level on points with Ajax. If Ajax manages to beat 4th placed FC Midtjylland, then it will be very hard for them to qualify for the next round.
Italian sides are playing some great football in the last two seasons. They finished third in Serie A last season with just 5 points behind champions Juventus, and managed to 50 goal difference, more than any side. They also had a wonderful campaign in the Champions League, where they reached the quarter-final of the competition.
This season they had a mixed start in both domestic and continental leagues. They now sit at 7th position in Serie A table, just two points behind 4th placed Juventus. But the recent form has been a problem for manager Gian Gasperini. They enter this fixture with two draws in Serie A, yet to win any fixture this month as well.
Liverpool will have their key player Mohamed Salah available for this match. Salah missed the last fixture due to tested positive for Covid-19, but yesterday’s test came negative. He has now returned to training as well, a big push for an injury-laden Liverpool campaign. Neco Williams to replace James Milner in the right-back position, latter needed rest, and it will be a positive rotation for the youngster.
Key midfielders Henderson, Naby Keita, and Thiago Alcantara are struggling with minor injuries, all missed the latest training session. Salah is expected to replace either Sadio Mane or Roberto Firmino for this fixture, as Brazilians also missed training today but are fit and available to play on Wednesday.
The Italian side are in very good condition with the player’s availability for this fixture. Many key players returned from injuries in the last two league matches. Marten De Roon returned in midfield against Spezia on weekend, but Fabio Depaoli will miss the Anfield trip. Key defender Mattia Caldara will remain sidelined due to a lengthy injury.
Predicted Line-ups and prediction:
Liverpool: Alisson, Williams, R. Williams, Matip, Robertson, Wijnaldum, Milner, Jones, Salah, Mane, Jota.
Atalanta BC: Gollini, Toloi, Romero, Palomino, Hateboer, Pasalic, De Roon Gosens, Gomez, Muriel, Zapata.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Atalanta BC.