Jürgen Klopp could repeat big Alisson Becker decision as Liverpool faces the impossible

Alisson Becker of Liverpool showing his appreciation to the fans at the end of the Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Crystal Palace at Anfield on April 14, 2024 in Liverpool, England.
Jürgen Klopp has a big decision to make on returning Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker. -Credit:Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Liverpool should have been singing the praises of Alisson Becker and Andy Robertson after the Crystal Palace game. Both made highly improbable interventions, and if those in front of them had been in possession of their finishing boots, they could have ended up as season-defining moments.

Instead, they will be forgotten. But Alisson's save deserves to be preserved in the memory; it's up there with the best in an extensive collection. Jean-Philippe Mateta's look of utter disbelief said it all, after the Liverpool stopper threw out the strongest of right hands to somehow divert away the shot from close range.

If you asked Jürgen Klopp whether Liverpool has particularly missed Alisson, he would rightly feel confident in saying 'no'. His deputy Caoimhín Kelleher has hardly put a foot wrong, and until the first leg against Atalanta had done enough to keep the Reds' trophy charge alive on two fronts.

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But that save against Palace was a reminder that Alisson has the simply unbelievable in the locker. Of course, we'll never know for certain, but it's possible that at least one or two of the goals that were deemed unsaveable when they flew past Kelleher might have been repelled by the Brazilian, who may just be the best in the world.

It's hard to know which of the tasks facing Liverpool for the remainder of the season is harder: coming back in the Premier League, or overturning a 3-0 deficit against Atalanta to keep Europa League hopes alive. The latter, at least, is still within the Reds' control, rather than relying on favors from Manchester City and Arsenal.

If Liverpool is to be in a position to capitalize on any slip-ups, Alisson will no doubt have a key role to play. But what about against Atalanta?

Klopp has been clear that the Europa League is Kelleher's competition. But with Alisson potentially benefitting from rhythm after a spell on the sidelines, the Liverpool boss could make an exception and turn to his number one, with the potential side-effect of marginally increasing the hopes of an unlikely comeback.

It would mirror a decision he has made once before. Alisson's sole appearance in the League Cup came in 2022, when Klopp chose to restore him to the team following a bout of Covid in order to get him back into the swing of things. It just so happened to be the first leg of a tricky semi-final tie against Arsenal, with the Reds going on to keep a clean sheet at Anfield before ultimately winning the tie and later the entire competition.

“Caoimhín is the goalkeeper for this competition but there’s a chance Ali will play [on Thursday] just because of the situation we were in,” Klopp said before that match. “I think he needs a game now, we will see how we decide but it is a good chance Ali will play just because of the situation because of Covid and when he was out.

“We all need to make sure the boys have as much rhythm as they can get and so there’s a good chance Ali will start tomorrow, but the competition actually is Caoimhín's competition.”

Notably, Kelleher was restored for the second leg. Klopp takes his commitment to his second-choice stopper seriously, and would not unceremoniously swap him purely to chase a result.

But in order for Liverpool to stand a chance for the remainder of the Premier League season, overcoming what looks like impossible odds, Alisson needs to be at his dazzling best. His save against Crystal Palace suggests he doesn't need long to find his rhythm, but any kind of marginal gain is surely worth pursuing at this point, and that could see Klopp make the swap once more.