Liverpool 0-2 Atalanta: Winners and losers as tame Reds stall in Europe

After the mesmerising performance of three weeks ago, a seriously lacklustre showing from Klopp’s side saw Atalanta regain crucial ground in Group D. OLIVER LAWRENSON picks out the Reds’ winners and losers from the game.

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Liverpool followed up their best performance of the season with arguably their worst on Wednesday evening, as they deservedly fell to defeat on Merseyside. 

This performance raised questions for Klopp as many of his players seriously underperformed, on an evening where they could have secured qualification for the round of 16. 

After the drubbing they handed out to the Italians on matchday three, this performance was the complete polar opposite. There was no intensity or fluidity in the play at all and Liverpool paid for their lack of ambition, as Gasperini’s men scored two goals in four minutes to secure the three points. 


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Klopp will be hoping that this is just a blip from his side. He will be looking for an immediate reply from them on Saturday lunchtime, when they go to the Amex stadium to face Brighton & Hove Albion. 

The German made five changes from the dismantling of Leicester City on Sunday. Naby Keïta (hamstring), Roberto Firmino, Andrew Robertson, Fabinho and Diogo Jota all dropped out, with Mohamed Salah, Divock Origi, Kostas Tsimikas, Rhys Williams and Neco Williams taking their place in the starting line-up. 

Here are my winners and losers from the game:

Winners

Kostas Tsimikas

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The only shining light on a poor evening for the Reds. On his second competitive start for the Liverpool, the Greek international took the game to Atalanta down that left hand side. With Sadio Mané having an extremely rare off night, it was down to Tsimikas to deliver the service for the forwards, which he did admirably. 

His crossing ability is a clear strength that stood out in this game. He put in three or four crosses that deserved to be met with attacking intent, but ended up fading into nothingness as no forwards made the effort to meet them. 

Defensively he held his own, battling and making several crunching tackles against players physically stronger than himself. He was caught out on a couple of occasions but these are situations that can be worked upon. It took Robertson time and Tsimikas should be afforded this also. 

He has shown so far that he is a worthy back up to Robertson when called upon. He was very unfortunate to be pulled just after the hour mark in this game and looks a reliable asset that has been added to Liverpool’s defensive ranks.

Losers

Divock Origi

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There isn’t much to say really as he was invisible and did nothing of note all evening. I can’t remember a single thing he did. This was another opportunity for him to make a statement but further emphasised his current lack of confidence. 

He has been selected ahead of Minamino now on several occasions when rotation was necessary, but after this performance surely the Japanese international will be given the nod next time. 

Since his goal in the Champions League final in June 2019, the Belgian hasn’t done anything major to persuade fans or Klopp that he should be given more opportunities in the starting eleven.  

He will be forever etched into Liverpool’s European folklore for what he has done, but it looks like this season could be his last at Anfield. If it is to be his last, we can all hope there will be one more piece of Origi magic sprinkled on this season before it ends.

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Mohamed Salah

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A complete off night for the Egyptian who looked lethargic on his return after period of self-isolation. This display should have been expected considering it is his first game back after two weeks away but, like Divock Origi, he did nothing of note before being taken off on the hour mark. 

He was anonymous until the last five minutes of the first half, managing one of Liverpool’s three shots all game in the final moments. This would be the peak of his evening as he was shutdown perfectly by Gosens’, whilst he failed to support Neco Williams defensively, with the young Welsh international having to fend for himself. 

We can only hope that this display was down to pure rustiness and that he will back firing on all cylinders come Saturday lunchtime against Brighton. With him slotting back into the starting line up alongside the regulars we can hope he can pop up with a goal or two at the weekend. 

Sadio Mané

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This was possibly the worst we have seen Sadio play since signing for the Reds. It was quite a shock to see how ineffective he was all evening. He lost the ball consistently, running into dead ends and turning over possession. He really struggled defensively to stay with Hans Hateboer, who ended up having a great battle with Tsimikas and Robertson during the evening. 

His frustration was showing on several occasions, hitting the floor every time he lost possession and was far from happy with some of the midfield build up and service. Arguably, the 28-year-old was lucky himself not to be taken off along with Salah after the hour mark. Even when Firmino and Jota played alongside him, his performance level didn’t improve. 

This is clearly just a one off and nothing should be read into this performance by the Senegalese international. His display just encapsulated the overall team performance, but you can guarantee that Mané and Liverpool will be back to normal when the Premier League campaign resumes.


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