After last week’s humiliating defeat at Anfield, Jürgen Klopp’s hopes of a farewell European triumph are hanging by a thread. We look ahead to Thursday’s UEFA Europa League quarter-final clash with our Atalanta vs Liverpool prediction and preview.

Atalanta vs Liverpool Stats: The Quick Hits

  • The Opta supercomputer gives Liverpool a 46.4% chance of beating Atalanta in Thursday’s second leg, but the Reds need to win by three goals just to force extra-time.
  • In UEFA Cup/Europa League history, there have been 132 previous instances of the away side winning the first leg of a two-legged tie by three or more goals. None of those leads were overturned.
  • Including his brace in the first leg, Gianluca Scamacca has scored in his last four Europa League appearances. This is the longest ever scoring run by an Atalanta player in Europe.

Match Preview

It wasn’t long ago that Liverpool were being tipped to finish their final season under Jürgen Klopp with four trophies, but now, the German’s Anfield swansong is threatening to fizzle out. The Reds have lost control of the Premier League title race and need a miraculous comeback to reach the UEFA Europa League semi-finals after last week’s crushing 3-0 loss to Atalanta. They couldn’t, could they?

In UEFA Cup/Europa League history, there have been 132 previous instances of the away team winning the first leg of a two-legged knockout tie by three or more goals, and none of those leads were overturned in the second leg.

Liverpool certainly fancy themselves as comeback kings, recovering a competition-high 27 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season. Meanwhile, four players likely to feature on Thursday – Alisson, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Andy Robertson – were involved when the Reds famously overturned a three-goal deficit to beat Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate in the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League semi-finals.

On that occasion, Liverpool had the all-important Anfield factor working in their favour. They will lack that advantage on Thursday, though they did beat Atalanta 5-0 on their previous trip to Bergamo in the Champions League in November 2020, with Diogo Jota scoring a hat-trick.

Jota was one of several players guilty of glaring misses in Sunday’s 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace, with Liverpool’s total of 2.87 expected goals (xG) in that match their highest on record (since 2010-11) when failing to score in a Premier League game.

Liverpool’s forwards must be more clinical on Thursday, and Jota does tend to relish playing in this competition, scoring nine goals in 12 Europa League appearances (six for Wolves, three for Liverpool) despite only starting five of those matches. His average of 64 minutes per goal is the best ratio of any player to have played at least five games in the tournament since its 2009 rebrand.

With all his forwards fully fit, Klopp has decisions to make in attack as Liverpool chase goals. One man who will need to show more composure is Darwin Núñez, who has scored just nine of his 45 big chances – as defined by Opta – in all competitions this season. His 20% big chance conversion rate is the lowest among all players in Europe’s top five leagues to have reached double figures for goals.

Atalanta, meanwhile, are on the brink of reaching their first European semi-final since the 1987–88 European Cup Winners’ Cup, when they went out in the last four to eventual champions K.V. Mechelen.

Given Liverpool’s firepower and the memories of August 2020 – when they led Paris Saint-Germain heading into the 90th-minute of a one-legged Champions League quarter-final, only to be crushed by goals from Marquinhos and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting – Atalanta will be taking nothing for granted.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s team, however, are unlikely to simply sit back on their lead. Their total of 3.2 xG in last week’s first leg was the most created by a visiting team at Anfield since February 2021, when Manchester City generated 3.47 xG in a 4-1 Premier League win.

Liverpool 0-3 Atalanta Stats

Atalanta were not afraid to press when the opportunity arose on Merseyside, and they rank joint-sixth for high turnovers in this season’s Europa League (80) and fifth for the fewest passes allowed per defensive action (PPDA), with 10. Liverpool have permitted opponents the fewest PPDA (7.6), so another frantic encounter should be in store.

Scamacca was the star of the first leg, his brace extending his scoring run in the Europa League to four straight appearances (five goals in total). This is the longest ever scoring run by an Atalanta player in major European competition, and the longest by an Italian in the Europa League since Giuseppe Rossi recorded an identical streak in 2015.

Atalanta’s hopes of securing UEFA Champions League qualification through Serie A took a blow as they squandered a 2-0 lead in Monday’s 2-2 draw with Verona, but Gasperini will be boosted by the returns of Marten de Roon and Davide Zappacosta on Thursday after they served domestic bans.

Atalanta vs Liverpool Head-to-Head

Atalanta’s only home win over English opponents came by a 3-0 scoreline against Everton in September 2017, while their only defeat to a Premier League side at Gewiss Stadium was their 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Liverpool in 2020.

They have drawn their other two home games against English teams, versus Man City in 2019 and Manchester United in 2021, and another stalemate here would see them through to the last four.

Liverpool have won three of their last four away games against Italian sides in all competitions (one defeat), as many victories as they managed in their first 14 visits (three draws, eight losses). However, their last trip to the country ended in a 4-1 defeat to Napoli in September 2022.

Recent Form

Atalanta have only lost one of their 16 previous home games in the UEFA Cup/Europa League, winning 10 and drawing five. That lone defeat did, however, come in the second leg of a quarter-final tie in 2021-22, when RB Leipzig left Bergamo as 2-0 victors.

The Italians are looking to win both legs of a two-legged Europa League tie for the first time since doing so in the last 16 two years ago, against Bayer Leverkusen.

Liverpool, meanwhile, could lose both legs of a UEFA Cup/Europa League knockout tie for the first time since 1998-99, when they were dumped out by Celta Vigo in the last 16.

Klopp’s side have only won three of their last eight matches across all competitions, losing two and drawing three, including an extra-time defeat to Man Utd in the FA Cup last month.

Prior to this run, they had won six of their previous seven matches, the exception being when they were taken to extra-time by Chelsea in the EFL Cup final, before going on to lift the trophy.  

Opta Power Rankings

The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.

Ahead of kick-off on Thursday, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.

Atalanta vs Liverpool Prediction

The odds are stacked firmly against Liverpool ahead of Thursday’s game. Across 10,000 pre-match simulations conducted by the Opta supercomputer, Atalanta avoided defeat in 53.6%, winning 27.2% and drawing 26.4%.

Atalanta vs Liverpool prediction Opta

While Liverpool are given a 46.4% chance of winning the second leg, they require a three-goal victory to have any chance of reaching the last four. With that deficit in mind, Liverpool have just a 6% chance of progressing through to the semi-finals, with Atalanta (94%) unsurprisingly the huge favourites.

Atalanta vs Liverpool UEL Squads

Atalanta: Juan Musso, Marco Carnesecchi, Francesco Rossi, Rafael Tolói, Emil Holm, Isak Hien, Berat Gjimshiti, Mitchel Bakker, Sead Kolašinac, Giorgio Scalvini, Davide Zappacosta, Teun Koopmeiners, Mario Pašalić, Éderson, Marten de Roon, Michel Adopo, El Bilal Toure, Ademola Lookman, Charles De Ketelaere, Aleksei Miranchuk, Gianluca Scamacca.

Head Coach: Gian Piero Gasperini

Liverpool: Alisson, Adrián, Caoimhin Kelleher, Vitezslav Jaroš, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konaté, Jarell Quansah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Conor Bradley, Andrew Robertson, Kostas Tsimikas, Wataru Endo, Thiago Alcántara, Dominik Szoboszlai, Alexis Mac Allister, Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, Ryan Gravenberch, Bobby Clark, Luis Díaz, Darwin Núñez, Mohamed Salah, Cody Gakpo, Diogo Jota, Ben Doak.

Head Coach: Jürgen Klopp

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