UEFA Europa League

Atalanta v Liverpool Tips: Diogo Jota to drive ambitious comeback for the Reds

Diogo Jota evades his marker in Europa League action
Calls for Diogo Jota's return to the XI should be granted

After an unexpected defeat in the first leg at Anfield, Liverpool will have to recover their goalscoring touch (and Diogo Jota) if they're to change their fate in Europe this season...

Atalanta v Liverpool
Thursday 18th April, 20:00
Live on TNT Sports 1

Liverpool to risk it all for a chance to progress

Well, it's safe to say that first leg didn't go to plan for Liverpool. "We can make the shortest press conference of all time. It just was a really bad game... oh my God," Klopp said after the fact.

Prior to last week's 3-0 home defeat to Atalanta, the Reds had been 10/111.91 favourites on the Betfair sportsbook to win the Europa League this season. Ahead of the second leg, they're now at a much longer 12/113.00 to go on and lift the trophy, with Xabi Alonso's Bayer Leverkusen 5/42.25 taking their place as the big favourites.

It wasn't only in Europe where Liverpool suffered last week, as you may have heard. Their defeat against Crystal Palace at Anfield on Sunday marked the first time they've suffered consecutive home defeats since March 2021, as crucial ground was conceded in the Premier League title race. According to Opta's season predictor, the Reds now have just an 11% chance of winning the league this team.

They may be on the back foot in both Europe and the Premier League at this point, but don't expect Klopp's side to wither away on both fronts. Indeed, what better way to recover their confidence in front of goal than going to Bergamo with their strongest possible XI and ambitions of recovering the tie? That surely counts for more than slightly fresher legs against Fulham at the weekend.

Whether Klopp's side can rescue the tie is, of course, a totally different matter. In UEFA Cup/Europa League history, there have been 132 previous instances of the away side winning the first leg of a two-legged knockout tie by 3+ goals, and none of these were overturned in the second leg.

Overall, I'll opt to stay on the side of history but not without a good push from Liverpool. With a game that will be engineered for the Reds to create as many chances as possible and take plenty of positional risks, I'll go with an away win on the night and both teams to score in the game.

Klopp's team haven't kept a clean sheet in any of their last nine games in all competitions, which is their longest run without one since December 2019 (13). Against an Atalanta side who scored three goals and had seven big chances at Anfield, who have home advantage this time, and who will face an opponent with a desperation to attack, I expect Gian Piero Gasperini's side might not have finished their goalscoring in this tie just yet.

Liverpool to win and both teams to score @ 7/42.75

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Jota and Scamacca are ones to watch

Diogo Jota hasn't started a game for Liverpool in two months, but the anticipation for him to return to the XI has been growing in recent weeks. With his side only scoring two goals from 9.1 xG across their last three games, Thursday night looks a good time for the man Jamie Carragher describes as the team's best finisher to make his starting return.

Jota has the best minutes per goal ratio of any Liverpool player across all competitions this season (minimum 500 minutes played), while his shot conversion rate of 23% is also the highest of any individual this term. Not to mention, on his last away trip to Atalanta in November 2020 the Portuguese ended up with the match ball following a 38-minute hat-trick.

Meanwhile, having previously backed Atalanta to be able to score themselves on Thursday night, I'll stick with the form man Gianluca Scamacca to do the heavy lifting there. Including a brace in the first leg of this tie, the 25-year-old has scored seven goals in his last eight appearances and netted in each of his last three outings (four goals).

The Italian striker has played a lot of football of late, but with the opportunity Atalanta have earned themselves after an outstanding first leg, expect Gian Piero Gasperini to be approaching the return leg with as many guarantees as he can possibly gather. The veteran coach will know this is the moment to be as vigilant as ever.

While Jota can be found at 9/52.80 to score anytime and Scamacca at a slightly higher 23/103.30, a double on the pair of them to get on the scoresheet comes in at 15/28.50.

Back Diogo Jota and Gianluca Scamacca both to score anytime @ 8/19.00

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Now read the rest of our Europa League Tips here!

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