It isn’t usually you may lose at residence within the Champions League and shrug off the implications, however Liverpool know that their 2-0 loss towards Atalanta at Anfield just isn’t a purpose to start out in search of the panic button.
Even when the Premier League champions lose once more subsequent week when Ajax come to city, a draw of their last Group D recreation towards FC Midtjylland — who’ve misplaced all 4 group video games up to now — shall be sufficient to take Jurgen Klopp’s group by means of to the spherical of 16. However whereas there shall be no sleepless nights in Liverpool after this defeat — remarkably, the heaviest residence defeat in Klopp’s five-year reign as Reds supervisor — it’s going to function a warning for what might occur later on this competitors.
Fairly merely, you can also make modifications and get away with it within the Premier League, however towards top-quality opponents in Europe, there’s at all times the hazard that they are going to punish even the slightest weak spot — particularly self-inflicted shortcomings.
“It was not a great recreation,” Klopp mentioned. “Each groups did not create so much till they scored the objectives, however it was a deserved defeat in a troublesome recreation.
“We had moments however not actual possibilities. It might occur to different groups.”
Klopp knew all of the permutations earlier than he chosen a much-changed beginning XI towards an Atalanta aspect who have been crushed 5-0 by Liverpool in Bergamo earlier this month. Having gained their first three video games within the group, the 2019 Champions League winners had given themselves a cushion on the high of their part and had, due to this fact, earned the precise to area a weakened group.
With Liverpool dealing with an away recreation at Brighton within the Premier League at 12:30 GMT (7:30 a.m. ET) on Saturday, the fatigue issue was the first purpose behind Klopp’s choice.
“You ask us to go Saturday at 12:30, which is sort of a criminal offense,” Klopp mentioned.
Accidents to key gamers similar to Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson have already taken their toll on Klopp’s squad and the supervisor has been vocal together with his frustrations concerning the calls for that the fixture scheduling is placing on his squad. That meant Rhys Williams and Neco Williams, two 19-year-olds, began on the again, with one other, Curtis Jones, in midfield.
Greek left-back Konstantinos Tsimikas, 24, was handed solely his third begin of the season in all competitions and Divock Origi was additionally given a uncommon alternative to indicate that he’s greater than a dependable substitute. However though the acquainted figures of Alisson, James Milner, Joel Matip, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have been current from the beginning, the modifications to the group have been sufficient to provide Atalanta the possibility to assert the victory that has revived their hopes of qualifying for the knockout levels.
The Italians confirmed on their run to final season’s quarterfinals that they’re a group able to beating extra celebrated opponents and Klopp’s choice was a present to educate Gian Piero Gasperini. Atalanta grasped it with open arms, with second-half objectives from Josip Ilicic and Robin Gosens incomes a win with a scoreline that didn’t flatter the guests. Atalanta might have scored extra towards a Liverpool aspect that didn’t create a single effort on course.
Atalanta’s objectives have been each all the way down to poor defending by Liverpool’s makeshift defence and their incapacity to cease, or clear crosses from the spectacular Papu Gomez. On this event, the objectives and the defeat are unlikely to harm Liverpool, except they lose their last two video games within the group.
However with Van Dijk and Gomez more likely to be lacking for almost all of this season, Liverpool should discover a method to tighten up defensively on European nights, particularly with their residence kind starting to slide — they’ve now gained simply considered one of their previous 4 UCL video games at Anfield. In the event that they attain the latter levels, the efficiency of the attacking gamers they are going to face ensures that Klopp’s group should be extra convincing on the again.
Alexander-Arnold shall be out there quickly and each Fabinho and Milner have proven that they will efficiently slot into the again 4 and provides Liverpool the solidity that they lacked towards Atalanta. However finally, the issues on the again on Wednesday have been attributable to Klopp’s choice. It was too inexperienced at this degree.
The justification for the modifications was comprehensible, with the journey to Brighton a extra testing fixture attributable to Liverpool being in a snug place on the high of Group D. However Liverpool cannot danger kids and fringe gamers within the knockout levels. If accidents imply they must play, then so be it, however the classes of the Atalanta defeat must be taken critically.
And on the subject of the sharp finish of the competitors, successful with out Van Dijk is not going to be simple.
Klopp will hope that, by the point that stage arrives, he doesn’t really feel the necessity to juggle priorities in several competitions as a result of as Wednesday confirmed, you merely cannot afford to take possibilities within the Champions League.