Jurgen Klopp wary of Atalanta having “a point to prove” at Anfield
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is wary of an Atalanta backlash after their 5-0 Champions League hammering by his side in Bergamo last time out.
The Serie A side, quarter-finalists last season, arrive at Anfield looking to avenge their heaviest home European defeat courtesy mainly of a Diogo Jota hat-trick three weeks ago.
They have won their last three European away games – scoring 11 goals and conceding three – and Klopp is not underestimating his opponents as he seeks to make it four successive group stage wins and book a place in the knockout phase.
“Atalanta would be a threat without a point to prove to be honest,” he said.
“The night in Atalanta was really special, we played exceptionally well and pretty much everything was right. Things came together and we won the game the way we won it.
“We know that this game has nothing to do with the game tonight. We know that we have to be ready again.
“Atalanta are a top team with a special way to play. We did well at Atalanta but we need to do well again otherwise we will have problems.
“I expect problems, to be honest, because it’s always like this. But we try to work on the solutions in the short period of time we have.”
Klopp heads into the game light in midfield with James Milner and Fabinho having to cover for an injury crisis in defence.
With Naby Keita being added to the injury list in Sunday’s win over Leicester, the Reds’ engine room is looking sparse with Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara, Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all injured.
It could mean another Champions League start for 19-year-old academy graduate Curtis Jones, who started in Italy at the start of the month and impressed again at the weekend.
“I’m not too surprised about the sports part of his development. We saw five years ago that he was an exceptional talent,” Klopp said of the Toxteth youngster.
“When you are in an environment like a top-class football team, and you are one of the top talents in the club, then you have a lot of things to do as a person.
“Kis personal development is even more impressive than his sports development. That’s great, really.
“Super player and it’s really good for us. Last year already and this year he made the next step. I’m really pleased for him, and it’s good for us as well.”
Klopp gave a qualified welcome to the news fans are set to return to football grounds in limited numbers next week, expressing his confusion at how some of the details have been worked out.
“The problem I have at the moment is that I struggle to put faith in any kind of announcement,” he said.
“And I don’t understand why we would now have 2,000 people in a stadium of 60,000 people, and 2,000 people in a stadium of 9,000 people.
“I’m not surprised that it is not finally thought through, to be honest. But it’s good news, a good sign, and I take it, 100 per cent.”