Atalanta: Player XX’, Player XX’, Player XX’
Liverpool: Jota 16’ 33’ 55’, Salah 47’, Mané 49’
A draw would put Liverpool in a very good position to advance out of Group D, especially considering the remaining fixture list (home ties against Atalanta and Ajax, and away to FC Midtjylland). But a win would be massive. It would almost be too good to be true, considering Liverpool’s ability to make fans sweat until the final whistle of the final group stage game.
Roberto Firmino starts on the bench, with in-form newboy Diogo Jota filling in. Presumably Mohamed Salah will take Bobby’s place in spearheading the attack. Curtis Jones gets the start in midfield and Rhys Williams gets another Champions League start. Joel Matip is on the bench, which seems to indicate that Klopp is in no rush to get the senior center half back until he’s fully fit. Hopefully by Sunday. No rush, Joel.
Hopefully Atalanta and Liverpool can entertain us for a couple of hours while The Other Thing is happening.
Jota creates the first big chance of the evening, right from the off. He goes at it alone, and nearly goes all the way! The Portuguese striker skins a couple of defenders, but cannot beat the keeper with his final effort.
Ten minutes in, and Liverpool are on the front foot. They are finding space to play through this Atalanta side, and really zipping it around the pitch.
GOAL! Jota just can’t stop scoring! Alexander-Arnold plays a fantastic ball for Jota to run onto. Diogo shruged off a challenge—one that would have surely been a pen, if he goes to ground—and chips the keeper with brilliant, classy finish.
Wijnaldum and Jones both go into the book. The former for a midfield challenge, and the latter for mouthing off about the other card. Someone tell Curt to turn down his Scouseness to 11.
Thirty minutes in, and Atalanta are starting to properly test Williams with a few long balls over the top. The Reds have kept the hosts largely at bay so far, but it’s something to watch as the match goes on.
GOAL!! Or, Diogo Jota can just keep scoring all the goals. Joe Gomez tallies a rare assist after pumping a ball toward the Portuguese winger. Jota takes one touch to take it away from his defender, and finishes it with a sweet strike on the half-volley. Absolutely unstoppable.
So wow. It’s been a long time since Liverpool played a first half that either a) wasn’t a complete, thankless graft, or b) was a score line fitting of the game we’re actually watching. It was all Liverpool in the first half, and Jota has been a live wire throughout.
GOAL!!! Atalanta win a corner, but Liverpool defend it well, and Curtis Jones clears a long ball directly into the path of a streaking Mohamed Salah. Mo doesn’t have the pace to lose his marker outright, but takes