Jurgen Klopp admits Liverpool will ‘have to see who can go again’ after gruelling Atalanta effort

Steven Chicken
Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp has battled fitness issues all season at Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp took a magnanimous view on his side’s underwhelming Europa League exit at Atalanta’s hands as their one-goal victory fell well short of what they needed to make it to the semi-finals.

Liverpool will have travelled to Italy knowing their chances of overcoming their three-goal deficit were slim, particularly coming off the back of two genuinely dreadful performances: in the first leg last week, and then (especially in the first half) in defeat to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Sunday.

Early Mo Salah penalty not enough to spark full-on Liverpool fightback

Mohamed Salah scored an early penalty to spark hopes that Liverpool might actually be able to go and bloody do it, but a wasted lob by the Egyptian just before the break was about as close as they managed to go to doubling the lead.

It became increasingly evident that Atalanta’s resistance was not going to be broken again, with the hosts posing just enough counter-attacking threat to stop Klopp from throwing the kitchen sink at finding the two extra goals they needed to have any chance of continuing on in the competition.

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Klopp told TNT Sports after the game: “Our two results show we didn’t lose it tonight – obviously the tie, we lost it at home. It was clear that we gave ourselves a massive hurdle in our way.

“I liked the game a lot for a long time: the commitment, the desire, the power the boys showed was incredible, and it’s really tricky to get these little rests. With these rhythm changes we were a bit too hasty in moments.

It was like ‘go again, go again’, quick restarts where eight players were like ‘oh, wait, give me a second and then we’ll go again’.

“That didn’t influence the game really, it just gave us a bit of a problem physically, and obviously we were a bit unlucky – and I don’t like to mention these kinds of things – but if Trent [Alexander-Arnold] is a bit fitter he can [play] a bit longer. How he started the game was absolutely insane, they had no clue how to defend that. But then obviously he was running out of gas slightly and we missed that.

“So the longer the game went…we changed things but then lost structure, and [Atalanta] changed defensively and pressed us high. We didn’t come out anymore, couldn’t create properly, and that’s it.

“But we won the game and that’s the reaction we wanted to show, and now that’s it. We knew it would be difficult, it was difficult, Atalanta deserve to go through, 100 per cent, that’s fine, and we can now focus on the league and that’s exactly what we’ll do from now on.”

Klopp: “We’ll throw everything into the Premier League”

He added: “We are back to winning ways now, and we have two-and-a-half-ish days’ time to make sure we recover to go against Fulham, which will be a tricky one – a completely different game, but tricky.

“We have to see who can go again, but this tonight was the reaction we had to show and the boys showed it. I’m not surprised about that, they always do that, and so it was a bit mixed emotions. I’m disappointed we are out but happy with big parts of the game, and that’s it pretty much.

“Let’s put a line under this competition. We would have wished for our people that we could go to Dublin, but that didn’t happen. We now have one competition left and we’ll throw everything we have into that.”