UEFA Europa League

Liverpool v Atalanta: Harvey Elliott to drive first leg victory at Anfield

Anfield shines under the sun on Merseyside
Liverpool will be looking to take a first leg advantage to Bergamo next week

Liverpool are the favourites to lift this season's Europa League trophy on the Betfair sportsbook at 10/111.91, and their journey through the knockout stages resumes on Thursday at home to Atalanta...

Liverpool v Atalanta
Thursday 11th April, 20:00
Live on TNT Sports 1

Liverpool to recover their ruthless streak

There were few excuses from Liverpool after their 2-2 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday. While Jurgen Klopp said it was a game his side should have won, Virgil Van Dijk described it as feeling like a loss, and the fault of nobody but themselves for not taking more of the chances they had.

The Reds may be able to forget about the title race for a few days ahead of their first leg against Atalanta, but you can bet they haven't forgotten what happened on Sunday just yet. In terms of relaying a sense of ruthlessness, of determination in front of goal, Atalanta might well be the ones in the crosshairs of Liverpool's response on Thursday.

Although they were unusually profligate at Old Trafford, the reality is Liverpool have been generating chances and attacking pressure at an astonishing rate of late. Klopp's side have had 134 shots across their last five matches, while averaging 3.2 goals per game. With the way they've been creating, the wastefulness that came over them against Manchester United is likely to be an anomaly, and ought to have sharpened their senses in its wake.

Of course, this will be Liverpool's first European game since beating Sparta Prague last month - a game that finished 6-1 and in which they were 4-0 up after 14 minutes. Not since 1971 had a team been four goals up that quickly in a European match, while they scored 11 goals in total across the two legs against Sparta. In this competition, the Reds should continue to hit very hard.

As for their opponents Atalanta, Gian Piero Gasperini's side aren't exactly arriving in their best moment of the campaign. Since winning six in a row between January and February, they've only won two of their last nine games across all competitions (D3 L4).

On their travels, the trend hasn't been any better. They've picked up just one win in their last seven away matches (D3 L3), losing each of their last two against Fiorentina and Cagliari. Clean sheets on the road haven't been their thing either, with just one across their last 11 away trips in all competitions.

With Atalanta ideally wanting to get out of Anfield with the tie still alive, defending astutely and cutting the rhythm of Liverpool's play when possible will have to be elements of their approach. The Italian side have averaged 14.9 fouls per game in the Europa League this season, and have come in over 13 in each of their last four matches across all competitions.

As the unwelcome guests against a Liverpool side eager to produce in attack, I'll opt for only one side to get on the scoresheet in this one, and Atalanta to try and keep the scoreline as fine as they possibly can.

Back no to both teams to score and 13+ fouls conceded by Atalanta @ 10/34.33

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Harvey Elliott can provide spark for Liverpool

Though he only played 21 minutes in Liverpool's draw at Old Trafford on Sunday, Harvey Elliott once again showed he can impact the game for his team after coming off the bench. And with rotations likely on the menu for Thursday's game, we can expect Klopp to reward him with a start against Atalanta.

Though he's only started 21 matches across all competitions for the Reds this term, Elliott has been one of their go-to players in the Europa League. Indeed, he's played more minutes in the competition of any Liverpool player this term (675), with only Wataru Endo (8) starting more games than him (7) so far.

While contributing heavily in cameos in domestic competition this season, Klopp has given Elliott a more prominent role in Europe - and not just in terms of minutes played. The 21-year-old has been a lead creator in the team's midfield in the Europe League, with his 13 chances created and four assists both the most of any player for the Reds in the current tournament.

Along with a Liverpool victory, I'll stick with Elliott to be directly involved in the goals for the Reds here. He assisted four of their 11 goals across the two legs against Sparta Prague in the previous round, with three of those coming in the return leg at Anfield.

Back Liverpool to win and Harvey Elliott to score or assist @ 6/42.50

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Now read the rest of our Europa League Tips here!

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