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Liverpool can take a book out of Hellas Verona’s book to complete Atalanta comeback

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By Siddharth Juyal

The second-half display from Hellas Verona in the Serie A clash against Atalanta should galvanize Liverpool for a European comeback

Hellas Verona scored two goals in the second half against Atalanta in the Serie A clash which should galvanize Liverpool. Verona secured a 2-2 draw at Gewiss Stadium after going two goals down early in the first half of the game.

La Dea secured a big Europa League 0-3 victory over Liverpool at Anfield in the first leg of the quarter-finals. After the result, many Liverpool fans and pundits including Jamie Carragher advised Jurgen Klopp to play second string team.

They cited focusing on the Premier League as the reason to self-sabotage the second leg of the Europa League. Many fans rightfully oppose the idea, and we believe that Klopp would not indulge in such a line of thought.

Liverpool have built a mentality under the German to take every game at a time and few fixtures remain. The Merseyside club earns its reputation as European royalty, creating many memorable nights and staging dramatic comebacks when it matters.

Verona holds 16th position in Serie A, trailing significantly behind the sixth-placed Atalanta side this season. They’ve exposed a vulnerability in Atalanta’s three-man defence, ripe for exploiting to engineer a sensational comeback.

Things Liverpool could learn from the inspiring performance of Verona against Atalanta

First and foremost, the Reds cannot afford to concede in the first half and they need to regain their organization. If Atalanta scores a goal, they will have a goal advantage and a good reason to make themselves compact again.

Liverpool failed to break the compact defending from the Italian side at Anfield as they continued to counter-attack and score. They need to keep the defensive shape against Atalanta’s 3-4-1-2 formation that focuses on pressing in the middle phases.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp highlighted that winning the game comes before looking to improve the goal difference against Sheffield United
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp vowed to take every competition seriously and he has guided the club to many memorable comebacks in Europe.

The Reds cannot resort to a slow transition from the defensive phase to midfield and attack in their build-up. Atalanta scored their first quick goal against Verona in the first half by winning the ball in midfield. They deployed the same pressing manoeuvre at Anfield as the slow movement of the ball from defence allowed them to anticipate.

Atalanta conceded two goals in quick succession against Verona in the second half, with both build-ups coming from right. Liverpool showed concerning signs against Crystal Palace as most of their attacking build-up relied heavily on the left flank.

The lack of overlapping right back after Conor Bradley’s substitution and Mohamed Salah’s emphasis on staying narrow created the issue. The situation isolated Dominik Szoboszlai whenever he dropped at the right side, causing him to misplace pass or pass back.

Liverpool can exploit the pocket of spaces that Atalanta leaves between attacking wingbacks and their three-man defence. However, this would require Salah to stay wide and be more involved in playmaking as he did in the early phases of the season.

Potential changes in the starting eleven

The Reds need to be clinical, a serious issue that has haunted them since the March international break ended. Diogo Jota’s return gives them hope that he could rectify the issue at hand through his clinical finishing.

Cody Gakpo has produced several good performances from the bench and deserves a nod above other misfiring forwards. Furthermore, Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez as substitutes to make an impact during the second half are also critical.

Trent Alexander-Arnold could make his first start since his injury lay-off as Bradley is unavailable due to injury. With Trent as an inverted right-back and Salah potentially staying narrow at the right, Harvey Elliott could start in midfield.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - APRIL 14: Conor Bradley of Liverpool leaves the pitch injured as Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool is embraced by Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool, prior to being substituted on during the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace at Anfield on April 14, 2024 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Liverpool vice-captain Trent Alexander-Arnold returned from injury to replace injured right-back Conor Bradley against Crystal Palace. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Allisson Becker has returned from injury but Klopp has always used Caoimhin Kelleher as the first-choice goalkeeper in cup competitions. With Ibrahima Konate playing 90 minutes in the last two games and struggling with performance, Jarell Quansah could return.

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson will fill the remaining defensive positions. The Reds should maintain the balance of their starting eleven and Alexis Mac Allister could play alongside Dominik Szoboszlai or Curtis Jones in a double pivot.

A brief review of strategic necessity during the clash between Liverpool and Atalanta

The tactical emphasis remains on exploiting the wide channels of Atalanta as Verona did over the weekend. The Reds need to counter the specific pressing system of Atalanta which is their primary source of scoring goals.

The situation demands the defence to move the ball faster than they did in the first leg. If Liverpool scores early, they can deploy smart game management to accomplish the comeback within 90 minutes of the game.

The Predicted lineup – Kelleher, Trent, Quansah, Van Dijk, Robertson, Mac Allister, Szoboszlai, Elliott, Salah, Gakpo, Jota.