Arguably one of the standout fixtures from the Champions League group phase takes place on Tuesday night as Atalanta entertain Liverpool in Bergamo. Mark O'Haire examines the odds.
"Remarkably, Over 3.5 Goals has banked in seven of the Bergamo boys’ eight encounters across all competitions this season"
Atalanta v Liverpool
Tuesday November 3, 20:00
Atalanta warm up with a win
Atalanta returned to winning ways in Serie A on Saturday with a 2-1 success at newly-promoted Crotone. Luis Muriel's early brace put La Dea in complete control, although the hosts managed to half the advantage before half-time. Nevertheless, Gian Piero Gasperini's charges were worthy winners, spurning a series of chances to add to their tally.
Gasperini kept squad rotation to a minimum after consecutive league losses, with Robin Gosens, Marten de Roon and Mattia Caldara injured. Muriel was brought off at half-time to keep the Colombian fresh for Tuesday's tussle. However, Hans Hateboer and Cristian Romero went off with injuries, whilst Gosens and de Roon are expected to miss out again.
Josip Ilicic is still finding his feet after a lengthily absence and so the Atalanta head coach must decide whether playmaker Pau Gomez and Muriel are joined in the front three by Duvan Zapata, Ruslan Malinovskyi or Ilicic. New signing Aleksei Miranchuk is also an option for Gasperini as he looks to build on an unbeaten start to the group (W1-D1-L0).
Liverpool light in defence
Substitute Diogo Jota scored for the third straight game as Liverpool came from behind to beat in-form West Ham and go top of the Premier League table. In an intriguing encounter, the Hammers took an early lead, the 15th goal the Reds have conceded in seven games this season - as many as Chelsea let in all season on their way to the title in 2004-05.
Jurgen Klopp's side were level shortly before half-time, a foul on Mohamed Salah allowing the Egypt forward to equalise from the penalty spot with Liverpool's first attempt on-target. But the Merseysiders, who gave a league debut to central defender Nathaniel Phillips, found it tough going for large swathes and needed Jota's 85th minute strike to secure victory.
Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip and Fabinho were all unavailable for Klopp on Saturday but there's hope Matip might recover in time to take his place alongside Joe Gomez in Klopp's depleted defence. Elsewhere, Thiago Alcantara, Konstantinos Tsimikas and Naby Keita are all edging closer to full fitness and could be included in the squad that travels to Italy.
Reds expected to take top honours
Atalanta are meeting Liverpool for the very first time but have performed reasonably well in previous meetings with Premier League opposition (W2-D1-L1). The same can't be said for the Reds' recent record in Italy; the Merseysiders have been beaten in all three previous away days in the peninsula under Jurgen Klopp at Roma, and Napoli (twice).
Atalanta 3.3512/5 are unbeaten in five Champions League group-stage games coming into this contest (W3-D2-L0). This term, La Dea opened their account with a 4-0 thrashing of Midtjylland before salvaging a 2-2 draw against Ajax in Bergamo, a match in which Gian Piero Gasperini's group trailed 2-0 at half-time. The hosts have W5-D1-L2 across all competitions.
Liverpool 2.166/5 have won each of their last three away games in the Champions League group stage, including a narrow 1-0 success at Ajax on MD1. The Merseysiders have posted W8-D2-L1 over their opening 11 outings and come into this clash on the back of a four-match winning streak. However, none of those four triumphs were completely convincing.
Atalanta's forward-thinking approach ensures games involving La Dea are rarely dull affairs. Remarkably, Over 3.5 Goals 2.001/1 has banked in seven of the Bergamo boys' eight encounters across all competitions this season. Seven of those eight fixtures also produced profit for Both Teams To Score hunters, suggesting Tuesday's tie could be fun to follow.
Despite back-to-back shutouts in the Champions League, Liverpool conceded presentable opportunities to both Ajax and Midtjylland, and the Reds travel to Italy having secured a solitary clean sheet in Premier League action thus far. Even so, Jurgen Klopp's troops have scored twice or more in nine of the aforementioned 11 matches in 2020/21.
With neither defence particularly proficient and key backline men missing for both teams, it makes sense to support Over 3.5 Goals considering the glut of attacking potential on show, plus the respective mindsets of both managers.
Mark's 2020/21 Profit/Loss
Staked: 29.00 pts
Returned: 33.02 pts
P/L: +4.02 pts
Back Over 3.5 Goals at 2.001/1 in Atalanta v Liverpool