It has certainly been a solid start for most British teams in the Champions League this season. All four Premier League participants sit at the top of their respective groups after two games, three of them with 100% winning records. One of those teams is Liverpool who after a somewhat injury ravaged start to the season, will defend their solid start this campaign on the road at Atalanta this week.

The Italian side sit second in Group D behind the Reds and are unbeaten in two games, coming back from 2-0 down last week to earn a 2-2 draw with Ajax, a week after beating Midtjylland 4-0 in Denmark. They lie fourth in Serie A with 12 points from six games and earned a 2-1 win over Crotone at the weekend to end a run of two games without a win.

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Let’s now take a look ahead to one of the most intriguing games in the Champions League this week as the youngsters of Atalanta take on the vastly experienced, but injury hit, Premier League Champions Liverpool.

Atalanta v Liverpool – Preview

Group D Table

  1. Liverpool – 6 points (For 3, Against 0)
  2. Atalanta – 4 points (For 6, Against 2)
  3. Ajax – 1 Point (For 2, Against 3)
  4. Midtjylland – 0 Points (For 0, Against 6)

Results

  • Midtjylland 0-4 Atalanta
  • Ajax 0-1 Liverpool
  • Atalanta 2-2 Ajax
  • Liverpool 2-0 Midtjylland

Atalanta began Group D as strongly as they finished in this competition last season, when after losing their opening three group games, they still managed to qualify from their group (becoming the first team in Champions League history to achieve that feat). They pushed on to the quarterfinals where they were looking likely to beat PSG before two very late goals sent the French side through, somewhat fortuitously.

A 4-0 win over the Danish side Midtjylland was a solid start but against Ajax at home, their defensive issues proved an issue again as they found themselves 2-0 down, but a fine second half fight back and thanks to a brace from Duvan Zapata, they managed to earn a point from the game.

Liverpool started off their campaign well with a 1-0 win against Ajax in Amsterdam, and then followed that up with a nervy 2-0 win over Midtjylland at Anfield in a game that the Danes should have scored in and perhaps, should have secured a point. The Reds are yet to concede in the Champions League this season but injuries to a number of centre-halves has left them very exposed in this area and this is something that Atalanta’s fine attacking players will look to exploit.

Atalanta v Liverpool History

The two teams have never met before in European competition but Atalanta have had some good results against other British teams. They were thrashed 5-1 by Manchester City back in November last year but held City 1-1 in Milan in the return game and back in 2017 they beat Everton 3-0 at home and then 5-1 at Goodison Park in the Europa League.

Liverpool’s recent record in Italy is dismal, having lost twice to Napoli in 2018 and 2019 in this competition, they were also beaten in Rome 4-2 in the semifinals second leg in 2018 and also lost 2-0 to Fiorentina back in 2009. Their last win in Italy in the Champions League came in 2008, against Inter Milan. They have lost on every other occasion since.

Indeed, since their Champions League win over AC Milan in 2005, the Reds have won six of the 15 games against Italian opponents since, drawing two and losing seven.

Atalanta v Liverpool Team News

Caldara, Carnesecchi, Piccini and de Roon will miss out for Atalanta through injury, while after scoring twice at the weekend in the win over Crotone, Luis Muriel is pushing hard for a place in the team which could see a slight tweak in formation for the home side. Sportiello is expected to continue in goal despite the return to fitness of former first choice keeper Pierluigi Gollini.

The big question for Liverpool is who will play in defence after Nat Phillips man of the match display last weekend, however the big defender is not in the Liverpool Champions League squad which means Rhys Williams could well come in to central defence.

After their crucial introduction at the weekend, Reds fans are clamouring for Shaqiri and Jota to play in the team, but I feel Klopp will likely stick with his trusted front three of Firmino, Salah and Mane on the road, with Henderson, Wijnaldum and Milner likely to start in midfield.

Atalanta v Liverpool Tips

Given the Reds worrying defensive issues, the number of goals conceded and key players missing, I do fear for them here. Their record in Italy under Jurgen Klopp is poor, losing all five games they have played in Italy under their current boss and this Atalanta team looks to have plenty of attacking threat.  As such, I think at 21/10, Atalanta represent great value for the win.

In terms of the Correct Score, this is a game that I feel will see goals scored and I think we could be in for a cracking game in terms of entertainment, 3-2 at 16/1 is probably the bet I’d go for here but even 4-3 at 40/1 is a tempting bet.

Lastly, for an anytime goalscorer bet, Duvan Zapata is a great shout at 5/6 for Atalanta.

 

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