66 min: Robertson, under pressure, manages to scramble the ball back towards Alisson, who has to dash off his line to hoof clear.
GOAL! Liverpool 0-2 Atalanta (Gosens 64)
Before Liverpool’s players react to falling behind, Atalanta increase the lead! Once again the sharpness of their passing and movement was in stark contrast to lethargy of Liverpool’s defence. A floated ball from the left sailed over Robertson and was headed back across goal to Gosens, who was all alone and allowed to side foot into the net from eight yards.
62 min: Klopp has long looked irked on the sidelines and was planning multiple substitutions before that goal: now he makes them in an effort to get his team back into the game: Origi and Tsimikas off, Jota and Robertson on.
Liverpool 0-1 Atalanta (Ilicic 60)
What a nicely worked goal! Atalanta passed the ball around in front of the Liverpool box, then fed it wide to Gome on the left. Gomez teased over a lovely cross, and Ilici eluded Tisimikas and stabbed the ball into the net from eight yards.
58 min: Tsimikas booked for a careless foul in midfield.
57 min: Liverpool’s subs are warming up. I dare say Origi will be one of the players replaced. He has offered very little up front.
55 min: n the other game in this group, Ajax have taken the lead against Midtjylland. That’s bad news for Atalanta, since it means the Dutch leapfrog them in the group standings. Let’s see if that injects more gusto into the play here.
53 min: Nice turn by Gomez, who then slides the ball into the path of Ilici. But Alisson sprints off his line to intercept.
51 min: Better from Liverpool, as they corral the visitors into their own half for a spell thanks to some sharp passing and movement. Neco Williams even managed to get off a shot from 20 yards. But it was charged down.
49 min: The passing from both sides has ben worse in this half than in the first.
47 min: Erm, no sign of that extra intensity yet.
46 min: No changes by either side, at least not in personnel. But you have to think Klopp will want to see a jump in intensity from his team.
“I don’t expect Liverpool to turn everyone over in an entertaining fashion, irrespective of who we put in the team, but that was the longest half of football from them I’ve watched in a while!” snorts Michael Gibson. “Hoping for better in the second half…”
Good thing Peter Littley is on hand to keep us up to date with hijinks elsewhere today. “Watching the Inter v Real game,” writes Peter. “Not unusual to see Arturo Vidal lose his cool but so too did Anthony Taylor with two yellows for Vidal in 10 seconds for over enthusiastic claims for a penalty. Now the nasty tackles are growing and Mr Taylor might be in danger of losing this. Second half should be interesting.”
Half-time: Liverpool 0-0 Atalanta
Well, that was a boring half, to be fair. Much-changed Liverpool have been very off-colour, showing none of their usual zest and pizzazz. Atalanta did most of the attacking but not with enough quality to really stretch the hosts. Tsimikas has looked decent for Liverpool and sent over a few useful crosses, and Matip has run the defence pretty well. Other than that, little to note.
44 min: A shot from Liverpool! The chance came from a freekick mid-way inside the visitors’ half. Liverpool worked it wide to the left, where Jones and Tsimikas conspired to send over a dangerous cross. When the ball broke to Salah near the edge of the box, he shuffled on to his right foot and blemmed it high over the bar.
41 min: It’s all gone a bit scrappy. “I am very saddened by Maradona’s death, but are we just going to ignore the fact that he has a history of substance and alcohol abuse, erratic behaviour and the stress it has on people around him?” asks Sreeram. Who is ignoring that? It’s been widely acknowledged, as far as I can see. One of the things that made Maradona so special (and perhaps one of the reason why even you are saddened today) is that despite being beset by problems, he uplifted us with timeless beauty.
38 min: A hint of menace from Liverpool, as Mané harasses Romero into losing the ball outside his own box. Oirgi tries to loop a pass through to Salah, but it falls short.
35 min: Ilicic goes down in the box and bays for a penalty, suggesting Tsimikas tugged him back. But the ref isn’t buying it.
33 min: Liverpool are chasing and defending pretty well, preventing any serious scares. But they can’t hold on to the ball when they get it.
30 min: Liverpool still look a little jaded and disjointed, and most of the game is being played in their half. They haven’t had a single shot yet.
25 min: Ooh, Liverpool were opened up there all right! But Gosens let them of by miscontrolling a pass, frittering away a glorious shooting opportunity from 10 yards out.
24 min: Atalanta enjoy a bout of ping-pong passing in the Liverpool half, forcing the hosts to defend in numbers. But Liverpool do that well, ceding on openings.
21 min: Freuler curls a cross from the right towards the far post. Tsimikas’s header is weak, clearing it only as far as Gomez hear the edge of the area. Fortunately for him, Gomez’ shot is wonky.
18 min: Mané, in plenty of space in midfield, bogs the ball straight into touch while attempting to pick out Salah. Symptomatic of Liverpool’s imprecision so far.
16 min: Milner sets Origi galloping down the right, but Romero slides in to poke the ball off the forward’s foot.
13 min: Curtis Jones, so impressive against Leicester last weekend, has shown some snazzy touches in midfield so far, but Liverpool haven’t yet achieved their usual fluency, which is probably unsurprising given all the changes. Tsimikas, too, has started brightly.
10 min: Neco Williams coughs up possession under pressure in his own half. Gomez hurtles into the area and uses Matip as a blind for the keeper as he tries to wrap a curler into the bottom corner. Good idea, but his shot whizzes a couple of yards wide.
9 min: Gosens runs on to a pass down the left and then, from an acute angle, rasps a ferocious shot at goal, almost beating Alisson at the near post. But the keeper, though perhaps surprised by the power of the shot, manages to plan it behind for a corner.
7 min: Liverpool are having most of the possession at the moment but Atalanta are pestering them hard.
5 min: Neco Williams picks out Mané with a fine crossfield pass. The Senegalese lays it back to Tsimikas, who sends a nice cross towards Origi in the centre. But it’s well defended by Atalanta.
3 min: Salah plays a wayward pass straight to Ilicic mid-way inside the Liverpool half. The forward carries it forward and then tries to send a curler into the top corner from just over 20 yards. But he fails to keep his shot down.
1 min: Atalanta get the show on the road. They demonstrate their intent by trying to attack down the left straight away, but Tsimikas puts a stop to that.
Milner, captaining Liverpool today, exchanges pennants with Gomez in the centre circle before both players bump fists. Then both teams gather in the middle for a moment of silence in tribute to El Diego.
“Quick thought: with the short turnaround before Saturday, I reckon we’ll see Liverpool give Matip and Fabinho 45 minutes each and likely get Mané and Salah off for Bobby and Jota pretty early as well,” suggests Paul Done. “Minamino STILL can’t get into the first 11 . . . Klopp must be saving him for Brighton on Saturday…”
On the threat from Atalanta: “If you lost 5-0 and then three weeks later you have an opportunity to put that right, you will give it a proper try…. We know the difference between the two teams is not five goals, so we just have to be ready for a proper fight.
On his team selection: “I’m a big fan of just focusing on one one game. But in a week with [matches on] Saturday, Wednesday and Saturday 12.30, you can’t. So you have to make changes and in the game we will make changes too.”
On the death of Diego Maradona: “I’m 53 years old and it feels like my entire life, he was part of it. When I was very young, I saw him for the first when he was, I think, 16, and from that moment one he was the player for me. Diego was a sensational guy; Maradona had some struggles, let me say it like this. I will miss them both.”
Jürgen Klopp has decried long and hard the demands placed on players during this hectic season so it’s no surprise that his team sheet reflects the number of players lost to injury and the concern to avoid any losing more. Several key players have been let on the bench as Liverpool start with a new-fangled defence and a weakened midfield and attack, though Mohamed Salah returns to the starting lineup. Liverpool’s fringe players have risen to most challenges so far and it will be highly impressive if, for instance, the two young Williamses and the let-back Tsimikas help beat a very attack-minded Atalanta side. And look at that bench: half superstars, half barely known.
Liverpool: Alisson; N Williams, R Williams, Matip, Tsimikas; Jones, Milner, Wijnaldum; Salah, Origi, Mané
Subs: Adrian, Koumetio, Clarkson, Cain, Kelleher, Robertson, Jota, Minamino, Firmino, Fabinho
Atalanta: Golini; Toloi, Romero, Djimisti; Hateboer, De Roon, Freuler, Pessina, Gosens; Gomez, Ilicic
Subs: Panada, Zapata, Miranchuk, Sportiello, Scalvini, Ruggeri, Rossi, Piccini, Mojica, Lammers, Palomino
Referee: C Del Cerro Grande (Spain)
Hello. You know a team has a deep squad and exceptional manager when they continue to dominate despite being decimated by injuries. Liverpool are joint-top of the Premier League and have won every match in their Champions League group so are without conceding a goal. All they have to do to confirm their place in the knockout stages and make their two final group games redundant is beat Atalanta, whom they walloped 5-0 in Bergamo earlier this month.
Chances are it won’t be so emphatic this time round, since Atalanta have their pride to restore, and their own qualification hopes to rekindle. And they can actually take heart from parts of the first match between the sides, since they created several chances to score, only to be denied by Alisson and imperfect finishing. That said, there’s a sense they’re still reeling from that drubbing, as they haven’t won a match since. Their 0-0 draw at Spezia last weekend ended a run of scoring in 16 consecutive away games in Serie A. Winning at Anfield would be a heck of a way to get back in the groove.