Liverpool’s match with Atalanta in the Champions League is a pivotal one. A win would see Jurgen Klopp’s team one victory away from securing their qualification into the knockout stages of the competition.
For this match, Liverpool would suit a change to a 4-3-3 formation.
Atalanta are a dangerous side capable of building attacks from the back. If Liverpool play the 4-2-3-1 Klopp utilised against FC Midtjylland, we risk getting exposed in the same way Aston Villa were able to do us.
While tempting to combine the attacking talents of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota, this forward quartet would not have the defensive work required to combat a team who scored 98 Seria A goals last season.
Jota was used as a substitute against West Ham and has to be in contention to start for the Reds following another outstanding contribution from the bench. The Portuguese international scored another winning goal for Liverpool during their 2-1 win over the Hammers.
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Firmino has been worryingly off the pace in recent weeks and could benefit from being taken out of the attacking limelight on this particular occasion.
Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita failed to make the bench against West Ham which indicates that both are unlikely to start in midweek. James Milner can be expected to do a job in midfield having started from the off against FC Midtjylland last week.
He is key to making the 4-3-3 formation work, and without him, the Reds won’t be able to dictate the tempo of the game as effectively.
Selecting a three-man midfield would help Liverpool control possession and play to the strengths of the players available.
Breaking down the selection choices
The defensive quartet remains the same with Klopp currently down to the bare bones in terms of squad depth from a defensive standpoint.
Williams returns to the starting XI to make his full-European debut in place of Phillips, who wasn’t included in Klopp’s preliminary Champions League squad. The 19-year-old will partner Joe Gomez in the heart of defence following a number of impressive cameos in the absence of Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Fabinho.
As discussed, Milner should come into the game to provide Liverpool more stability and control from midfield against one of Italy’s most feared attacking outlets.
Liverpool would be able to rest Firmino and bring him off the bench.
Up-front, Klopp would revert from an attacking quartet to a forward trident with a newly-established trio of Mane, Salah and Jota leading the line against Atalanta.
This side would have made three changes from the weekend team which took on West Ham, with Williams, Milner and Jota coming in for Phillips, Jones and Firmino, but it is still a very strong XI. One which is easily good enough to get all three points.
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