Fresh from inflicting Atalanta’s heaviest home European defeat, Liverpool welcome the Italian side to Anfield with the last 16 in sight.
• The six-time winners were 5-0 victors in Bergamo last time out, Diogo Jota’s hat-trick helping to secure an emphatic victory; it was the first time Atalanta had lost a home European tie by more than one goal.
• That made it three Group D wins from three for Liverpool, who will qualify for the round of 16 with another victory at Anfield. Atalanta are level with Ajax on four points, four above debutants Midtjylland.
• The Reds have won all three games in this season’s competition without conceding, beating Ajax (1-0) and Midtjylland (2-0) before the win at Atalanta. Only Chelsea have also kept three clean sheets.
• Liverpool were champions of England for the 19th time in 2019/20, their first league title since 1990.
• The Reds are in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the 13th time; they have only failed to progress to the last 16 or further three times.
• Jürgen Klopp’s side finished top of Group E in 2019/20, recovering from losing their opening fixture 2-0 at Napoli to advance with 13 points ahead of the Italian club, who also drew 1-1 at Anfield. There were two wins against both Genk (4-1 a, 2-1 h) and Salzburg (4-3 h, 2-0 a), the latter success on Matchday 6 sealing progress.
• Liverpool had won their sixth European Cup in 2018/19, but their defence of the trophy came to a halt in the round of 16, Atlético de Madrid winning 1-0 in Spain and, after extra time, 3-2 at Anfield. The latter result ended Liverpool’s 25-match unbeaten home run in Europe (W18 D7), since a 3-0 loss to Real Madrid on 22 October 2014, and was their first aggregate defeat in 12 two-legged knockout ties.
• Liverpool have won 12 of their last 18 European fixtures (D2 L4).
• The Reds’ record at home against Italian teams is W8 D1 L4, though they were defeated in two of the last six (W3 D1).
• Liverpool have met Italian clubs in four European Cup finals, winning two (against Roma in 1984 and AC Milan in 2005) and losing two (against Juventus in 1985 and Milan in 2007).
• Atalanta started Group D with a 4-0 win at Midtjylland, their biggest UEFA Champions League victory, but then had to come from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 draw at home to Ajax prior to losing against Liverpool.
• Debutants in 2019/20, this is Atalanta’s second successive UEFA Champions League appearance after they finished third in Serie A last season.
• Initially it appeared as if the Bergamo club’s first taste of the competition would prove brief, Atalanta losing their first three UEFA Champions League matches, against Dinamo Zagreb (0-4 a), Shakhtar Donetsk (1-2 h) and Manchester City (1-5 a). However, a point at home against City on Matchday 4 (1-1) proved the catalyst for a remarkable revival, the Italian side beating Dinamo 2-0 at home and Shakhtar 3-0 away to snatch second place in the group behind City.
• Even better was to follow in the round of 16, Atalanta beating Valencia 4-1 at home and 4-3 away with Josip Iličić becoming the first player to score four times in a UEFA Champions League knockout match in the latter fixture.
• Atalanta looked set to continue their magical run thanks to Mario Pašalić’s first-half goal in their quarter-final against Paris Saint-Germain, but the French side struck twice in the closing moments to end their adventure.
• Defeat by Paris in Lisbon ended Atalanta’s club record four-match winning streak in Europe.
• The Italian club have lost only six of their last 26 European games (W12 D8).
• This is Atalanta’s 48th European match, and their eighth campaign in continental competition. They reached the European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-finals in 1987/88 and the UEFA Cup quarter-finals three years later.
• Atalanta have won their last three European away games, scoring 11 goals and conceding three, and six of the last ten (D1 L3).
• Their two games with City last season and the home match against Liverpool aside, Atalanta’s only other fixtures against an English club came in the 2017/18 UEFA Europa League group stage, when they beat Liverpool’s local rivals Everton 3-0 at home and 5-1 away. Alejandro Gómez scored in the home game in Reggio Emilia and Robin Gosens was on target on Merseyside.
Links and trivia
• Have played in Italy:
Mohamed Salah (Fiorentina 2015, Roma 2015–17)
Alisson Becker (Roma 2016–18)
Xherdan Shaqiri (Internazionale 2015)
• Thiago Alcántara was born in Italy in 1991, when his father Mazinho was playing for Lecce.
• Have played in England:
Marten de Roon (Middlesbrough 2016/17)
Pierluigi Gollini (Aston Villa 2016)
• Pašalić joined Chelsea in 2014 but never played for the first team, having several loan spells elsewhere before signing for Atalanta on a permanent deal in June 2020.
• Have played together:
Fabinho & Mario Pašalić (Monaco 2015/16)
• International team-mates:
Virgil van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum & Marten de Roon, Hans Hateboer (Netherlands)
Xherdan Shaqiri & Remo Freuler (Switzerland)