Atalanta vs Liverpool: Early team news and injury updates

Atalanta vs Liverpool: Early team news and injury updates

Atalanta vs Liverpool: Early team news and injury updates

Jurgen Klopp and his players travel out to Italy tomorrow morning ahead of their crunch Europa League Quarter-Final second leg.  But which players are fit and who will Klopp pick for this must-win game?

When the draw for the Europa League Quarter-Finals was made several weeks ago, many Liverpool fans (us included) were very happy with the draw, and our chances of progressing to the Semi-Finals and beyond.

Fast forward several weeks and Jurgen Klopp takes his team to Bergamo, knowing that they must perform another minor miracle, if they are to keep their European dreams alive, after a dismal display in the first leg at Anfield last week, which saw the Italians secure a commanding 3 - 0 lead.  Yet despite the scoreline and the subsequent defeat against Crystal Palace on Sunday, Liverpool fans heading to the Sadio de Bergamo know that when Liverpool are involved, anything is possible, with Jurgen Klopp turning "doubters into believers" on more than one occasion.

If Liverpool are to overturn the first-leg deficit, Klopp will need everyone to perform to their best, but which players are fit, and who will he pick when so many players are out of form?  Read on below, as we assess who should start, and who needs to be benched.

Injured Players

Although Liverpool's injury problems have eased considerably in the last couple of weeks, there are still a few first-team players who are unavailable to Klopp and won't travel to Italy.  These include long-term absentees, Thiago, Joel Matip, and Ben Doak.  Young Spanish midfielder Stefan Bajcetic made the squad for last week's game but is still working his way back to full fitness, so is unlikely to start in Italy.  Another youngster, Conor Bradley, left the Palace game with an ankle injury, with early reports suggesting he may not play again this season (if he has damaged his ankle ligaments).  Klopp will provide further details at his press conference on Wednesday, but it is unlikely that Bradley will be available for Thursday's game.

Klopp's 23-man squad for Atalanta vs Liverpool

As per UEFA rules, Jurgen Klopp can select a 23-man squad for Thursday's match, with LFC - Back On Our Perch expecting the following players to be on the plane to Italy.

Goalkeepers
Alisson, Kelleher, Adrian

Defenders
Van Dijk, Gomez, Quansah, Konate, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Tsimikas

Midfielders
Endo, Mac Allister, Szobosklai, Jones, Elliott, Gravenberch, Clark

Attackers
Salah, Diaz, Nunez, Gakpo, Jota, Danns

Who makes Liverpool's Starting XI?

Ordinarily, when everyone is fit and in form, Liverpool's starting XI picks itself, but with so many players out of form, Klopp has a few big decisions to make.

Goalkeeper

Caoimhin Kelleher has performed admirably over the past couple of months, helping us win the Carabao Cup in February, and making numerous world-class saves in important matches, but it was always going to be the case that once fit, Alisson would resume as the no.1 keeper, which is what happened against Crystal Palace on Sunday.  However, Klopp always plays fair by his players, and Kelleher is the designated Cup 'keeper, so I am expecting Klopp to pick the young Irishman on Thursday.

Defence

Liverpool has struggled to keep clean sheets recently, but on Thursday they simply can't afford to concede any more goals, so the back four must improve.  Virgil Van Dijk is guaranteed to start, as is Robertson at left-back (with Tsimikas having the worst game of his Liverpool career in the first leg), but the other two positions are more difficult to predict.  Ordinarily, Konate would partner Van Dijk in central defence, but he has been inconsistent recently, while Joe Gomez also had a shocker in the first leg.  That leads me to pick young Jarell Quansah to partner Van Dijk, despite the importance of the match, with the returning Alexander-Arnold starting at right-back.

Midfielder

Wataru Endo and Alexis Mac Allister have been brilliant all season, but they have both dipped at just the wrong moment, with Dominik Szoboszlai and Curtis Jones also struggling after recent injuries.  Ryan Gravenberch is still to find his feet at Anfield, while Harvey Elliott works best as an attacker, leaving Klopp with something of a headache in midfield.  On paper, Endo, Mac Allister, and Szoboszlai all start, but I think Klopp might stick with the midfield that started on Sunday, meaning Curtis Jones again gets the nod ahead of the Hungarian.

Attack

Liverpool need to score at least three goals in normal time, so Salah, Diaz, and co need to find their shooting boots on Thursday night.  Salah is sure to start, but I would be tempted to rest Nunez and play Elliott or Gakpo from the start.  Gakpo has been out of form himself recently, but he looked to be playing himself back into form on Sunday. At the same time, Elliott has a great understanding with Salah, and offers a more controlled, creative element to the attack, compared to the chaotic, full-throttle style of Nunez and Diaz.  I would therefore play Diaz on the left, Salah through the middle, and start with Elliott on the right, with both Jota and Nunez to come off the bench in the second half if needed.  There is an argument to start Jota, but Liverpool need to be careful with the Portuguese forward, given his long-running injury problems.

Join us tomorrow after Jurgen Klopp has given his Atalanta v Liverpool pre-match press conference, when we will have more information about Liverpool's injured players, and an insight into his Starting XI.

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... About The Author ...

Peter Farrell :: LFC - Back On Our Perch Author and Editor

Peter Farrell - Editor and Chief Article Writer, LFC - Back On Our Perch
Articles written by Author :: 546

Lifelong fan with a passion for all things Liverpool. First memory of football is watching John Barnes score a dramatic last minute equaliser in the FA Cup when he was 4. Feels lucky to be a part of the 'Klopp' era.

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