5 talking points from Liverpool’s 0-3 defeat at home to Atalanta

Here are five talking points from Liverpool 0-3 Atalanta at Anfield in the UEFA Europa League. An awful, awful night for the Reds.

Some big returns

Let’s start with literally the only positive.

Jurgen Klopp was able to recall Diogo Jota, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Stefan Bajcetic to his first-team squad for this one. The first two haven’t played in around two months - vital players who’ve missed massive games.

Bajcetic, though, was a surprise. He hasn’t featured at all since September, playing a meagre 72 minutes all season. The Spaniard is back around the first-team now.

It should make things easier over the coming weeks as Klopp looks to maintain intensity in the title race. And the more elite players available the better, of course.

Intensity, again

Liverpool just didn’t have the intensity they required here - and it’s something we’ve been able to say repeatedly over the last few weeks. An almost arrogant atmosphere that’s been strangely prevalent.

But it couldn’t have been more obvious than it was here. Liverpool struggled for urgency, struggled for aggression and allowed Atalanta to consistently overrun them.

It’s a pattern that needs to go away immediately - because it risks ruining the season.

Defending - or not

For all of the awful intensity and missed chances, this game doesn’t become a disaster if Liverpool just defended properly. Both of Gianluca Scamacca’s goals came directly from no one marking him.

First he was there for a cut-back without anyone in his way. Then came a finish from a cross where he was in so much space people assumed something had gone wrong.

Even the third, Atalanta just went through the middle of Liverpool without much resistance. Without any resistance, really.

That was the big problem here, above all. Amateurish defending cost the Reds not only the game, but likely their chances of winning the Europa League.

The substitutions

Klopp’s subs made sense. He brought on Mohamed Salah, Dominik Szoboszlai and Andy Robertson at half-time. Then Luis Diaz, then Diogo Jota. He essentially brought on the first-team players who were missing.

But did the right players go off? Liverpool were noticeably blunter in the second-half. Harvey Elliott, for instance, came closer to scoring than anyone else, while he missed out on two great chances purely because of poor Cody Gakpo passes.

Darwin Nunez, too, fluffed a glorious opportunity but he was making things happen. Once he went off, very little happened.

Again, Klopp will have expected far more from the players he brought on and in the end, the result reflected more favourably on those who went off.

Where now?

A massive question faces Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp now: do they give up on the Europa League? They need to beat Atalanta - a team with a fine home record - by four goals, really.

Given they’re also in the title race, it may ultimately be a better decision to rest the stars in Bergamo and concentrate domestically.

At the same time, Liverpool have overhauled a 3-0 deficit in Europe before under Klopp. That, however, as at Anfield.

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