Liverpool’s good form in the Champions League ran out against Atalanta.
Jurgen Klopp’s Reds were routinely beaten at Anfield as the balance of Group D becomes extremely poised as a result of their first defeat in the competition since March.
Here are five things we learned from the game.
Disorganised defensive lapses
Liverpool eventually fell behind on the hour mark after the host’s lacklustre performance was finally punished by Josip Ilicic.
Alejandro Gómez’s innovated the goal with a supreme passage of skill which resulted in a delicatley whipped ball towards the back post which was dully converted by Ilicic.
This was a mistake from a team desperately lacking in organisation and quality on the night, the fact it was Klopp’s 10th central defensive partnering of the season showed.
Beforehand, Liverpool had clocked up three consecutive clean sheets in Europe and had been resolute and compact prior to tonight.
Inevitably injuries will have of course had an impact but such an abandonment of quality is inexcusable from a team of Liverpool’s quality.
You can’t underestimate anybody
Liverpool were unsurprisingly favourites to win this game following a 100 per cent start to the group in their opening three matches.
Klopp heavily rotated with five changes from the team that swept aside Leicester at the weekend.
The drop-off in performance levels was worrying and at times, Liverpool seemed to forget they were playing in the continent’s premier competition.
The Reds lacked intensity and it showed. Atalanta were sharper and more dangerous and forced Liverpool into making a number of uncharacteristic mistakes.
In truth, the amount of changes left Liverpool playing without a clear plan or vision in how they were going to get a stronghold in the game. The number of new defensive and midfield combinations left Klopp’s troops worryingly disjointed and lacking identity.
Going through the motions
To say the opening 45 minutes was from a thriller would be an understatement. In truth, it was a particularly dour affair, especially from Liverpool’s behalf.
It took the Reds just over 43 minutes to register a solitary attempt after Salah blazed a wild effort into the Anfield Road end.
Overall, Liverpool looked worryingly disjointed, which is understandable given the number of matches and the fact Klopp is operating with a depleted squad.
However, what was inexcusable were the careless errors that led to continuously surrendering possession.
While there was little to applaud from Liverpool’s behalf in the opening exchanges, credit where it is due to the quality of the opposition.
Atalanta were much more inventive and combative at the home of the English champions and were the polar opposite of the side who surrendered so meekly in Bergamo.
Failure to harness attacking threat
Liverpool lined up with their systematic 4-3-3 system yet judging by the performance, it was as if the team had never played by this formation.
On paper, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Divock Origi should be enough to provide guarenteed goals.
Liverpool didn’t have one single effort on target with all three of the aforementioned attackers drastically failing to impact the game.
This looked a case of throwing in players and hoping it clicked. It didn’t.
Liverpool had an opportunity to confirm their qualification to the knockout stages with victory.
Ajax’s victory over FC Midtjylland means just two points currently separates Liverpool from both Atalanta and Ajax.
A win against the Dutch giants in six days time will secure their passage into the last 16 – but off the evidence of tonight, a win is no guarentee.
This was a blown chance to capitalise on our early three emphatic wins, and hopefully the Reds will not go on to regret this.
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