Here is our exclusive Atalanta vs Liverpool Tactical Review. Atalanta vs Liverpool was expected to be one of the biggest clashes in this season of the UEFA Champions League. With the absence of Virgil Van Dijk at back, Liverpool was expected to be asked tough questions at the back by free-scoring Atalanta who has found the nets 79 times in their last 29 outings. But it turned out to be a rout, as Reds dominated the match and won the match with a convincing 5-0 victory. Diogo Jota grabbed the headlines for the Reds as he scored his first hat trick for the Reds. We will take a look in this article how Liverpool put up such a dominating display against the tricky Italian opponents.
Liverpool Controlling the Game
One thing everyone can agree upon is that from the word go it was Liverpool who controlled the tempo of the game. Liverpool looked extremely comfortable on the ball throughout the match despite Atalanta’s pressing. Liverpool started with their regular 4-3-3 with Diogo Jota as the forward replacing the Brazilian superstar Roberto Firmino. During the tight situation, we have seen him dropping deep to provide that extra man in midfield who can be an easy passing option.
The constant dropping and accelerating forward runs from Jota resulted in confusion in Atalanta’s defensive ranks, meanwhile, Salah and Mane make runs behind the defenders finding easy spaces upfront. Curtis Jones was another guy who despite being a teenager looked like a veteran as he moved the ball with one touch passes and also made progressive runs.
Henderson and Wijnaldum are no doubt the engine of the midfield, their work rate is another reason why Liverpool was successful in recovering the possession quickly in the midfield. With Gini’s press resistance nature, he was the one who took the onus of making progressive runs as the team transitioned from defense to offense.
Atalanta’s Poor Defensive Organisation from their Own Setpieces
Atalanta was coming as a bit of a favorite in the match due to their recent form in the competition. Their trashing of 5-0 came as a surprise for many of the club’s fans. The main reason behind that is Atalanta’s failure to defend from their own set-piece. Liverpool are one of the few teams in World football who can turn an opponent’s setpiece into their own opportunity, we have seen that a lot in English football.
Atalanta did the same mistake as they gave Liverpool players space in front to run straight at them after recovering the ball from the set-piece, without a proper defensive setup and acres of space in front it became easy for Liverpool’s pacy front 3 of Jota, Salah and Mane to run riot.
Even in the counter-attacks, Atalanta faced the same problem in their defensive organisation. Liverpool forwards was finding it easy to run behind the defenders as the trough balls were played from the midfield. Salah’s second goal and two of Jota’s goal were prime examples of that.
Unlucky Atalanta in Front of Goal
One can be deceived by the scoreline but Atalanta was not the team who deeped drop to protect themselves from Liverpool rather they were seen on the offensive a lot. Atalanta was somewhat unlucky in front of the goals, to be honest. Duvan Zapata was the man who was creating all sorts of problem for Liverpool’s back four. One of his shots struck the barpost but came out.
In the early stages of the game, Muriel was taking shots but was denied by Alisson on a tricky surface. One of the biggest reasons behind Zapata’s super performance yesterday was his ability to use his pace and at the same time using his physicality to get past a number of Liverpool defenders at a time. As a result, he found a lot of 1 vs. 1 situation with the Brazilian keeper of the team.
Alisson also deserves his credit as he saved 6 shots in a night that could be a tricky one for the keepers as the pitch had a greasy top. Alisson’s exploits helped Liverpool to keep a clean sheet in their consecutive third Champions League game.
Liverpool’s Dominance on the Flanks
Liverpool looked at their majestic best last night, one of the main reasons behind that is all the free space they got in the wide areas of the pitch. Liverpool depends a lot on their full-backs and wingers to provide creativity to the team.
So for a team facing them, it becomes very important to protect the flanks but Atalanta with their 3-5-2 formation completely failed to do the needful as throughout the game the wide areas remain unguarded as the wide players of Liverpool ran riot. Throughout the night Atalanta’s wingbacks remained missing and were more engaged with the team’s attacking setup rather than protecting the back.
Salah and Mane along with the fullbacks were seen exploiting the wing a lot, in case of Jota’s third goal it came from Jota running in the wide space in the flanks then cutting back inside. Atalanta must be wary of Liverpool’s wide players before their visit to Anfield.
Diogo Jota: The Man of the Moment
Liverpool has no doubt done their best bit of business in the transfer window by securing the service of Diogo Jota from Wolves. The Portuguese signing has now scored 7 goals for the Reds in such a short time. The Liverpool forward has shown his class again as he scored a hat trick.
Jurgen Klopp looked a happy man, as his new signing looked lethal in front of the goal with his finishing. Some fans recalled Salah’s first season performance at Liverpool looking at Jota’s splendid performance yesterday. His positioning and dribbling skills are top-notch as he was always found in the right place. He also showed an immense work rate by providing support to the midfield. Roberto Firmino’s position might be in danger ahead of the crucial Premier League tie against Manchester City at Etihad.
It will interesting to see, who starts in that crucial tie. It’s safe to say that with Jota, Liverpool has added another dimension to their attack.
That sums up the Atalanta vs Liverpool Tactical Review. It was a must-win game for the Reds as they are slowly nearing the qualification to the Champions League knock-out stage. In a hectic December, Liverpool could have the luxury to play their squad players if they win their next match at Anfield against Atalanta. Liverpool’s focus will be now on the all-important Manchester City game. It can be a make or break game for the Reds. A test of their defensive might without Van Dijk at the back.
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