Liverpool look to secure a qualification spot for the knockouts as they welcome Atalanta to Anfield in Group D of 2020-21 UEFA Champions League.
Victory is all that Liverpool needs to assure themselves of a place in the knockout stages post Christmas, although if Ajax lose to Midtjylland then the Reds will progress as Group D winners as well as seal qualification with two rounds remaining.
Atalanta meanwhile can climb to within two points of their hosts if they take a win and potentially go second depending on Ajax’s result against Midtjylland.
Naby Keita is a doubt for Liverpool after suffering a hamstring injury during Sunday’s Premier League win over Leicester which saw the midfielder substituted.
Mohamed Salah could return if he successfully passes Coronavirus tests with negative results whilst Rhys Williams (hip) and Thiago Alcantara (knee) are also expected to feature if can prove their match fitness in time.
Xherdan Shaqiri, Jordan Henderson (both muscle) plus Trent Alexander-Arnold (calf) are ruled out alongside Joe Gomez, Virgil Van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who all remain absent with knee injuries.
Atalanta have a near full squad available with Mattia Caldara (knee) and Ruslan Malinovskyi (Coronavirus) being their only absentees after several players returned from injury lay-offs at the weekend, including ex Middlesbrough midfielder – Marten de Roon.
- Liverpool won their only previous meeting against Atalanta, defeating the Italian team 5-0 in Bergamo three weeks ago.
- Atalanta have won one of their two previous away trips to English opposition in all European competitions, beating Everton 5-1 in 2017-18 Europa League Group Stage but lost by same result at Manchester City at same stage last season albeit in Champions League.
- Diogo Jota has scored seven goals across five of his last six Liverpool appearances in all competitions.
Even despite having a heavy injury crisis on their hands, Liverpool continue to defy expectations without likes of Salah and Alcantara starting and if Atalanta play like they did a few weeks ago then this could be another dominant performance.
Atalanta however will be hoping that Merseyside luck is on their side if can take heart from their performance across Stanley Park at Everton a few years ago but this is going to be a tough ask against an in-form Liverpool team, who are capable of adapting their play against any opposition and especially at their Anfield fortress.
Add in Diogo Jota’s form plus potential return of Salah then I genuinely can’t see Liverpool losing here but with fixtures coming thick and fast, I do expect Jurgen Klopp to make tactical substitutions once they are comfortably leading.
Prediction: Liverpool 3-0 Atalanta
Result: Liverpool 0-2 Atalanta