Jurgen Klopp dismisses suggestion Liverpool can't cope with one tactic

BERGAMO, ITALY - APRIL 17: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool FC talks to the media during the UEFA Europa League 2023/24 quarter-final second leg press conference at Gewiss Stadium on April 17, 2024 in Bergamo, Italy. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool's manager, at tonight's press conference at Atalanta's Gewiss Stadium -Credit:Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Jurgen Klopp admits Liverpool must be ready to capitalise should Atalanta struggle to manage the expectation of their strong Europa League position.

The Serie A side are overwhelming favourites to progress from the quarter-finals after they earned an historic 3-0 win during the first leg at Anfield last Thursday.

Liverpool have never before progressed in Europe having lost a first leg at home, the most recent example of which came last season when they followed a 5-2 loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League round of 16 with a 1-0 defeat in Spain.

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Klopp, though, believes the Reds' previous encounters with Atalanta - when they followed a 5-0 away group stage win in the Champions League in 2020/21 with a 2-0 defeat at home - underlines the potential issues in managing such a big lead from the initial match.

And the Liverpool boss has dismissed claims his team struggle to cope with man-marking. "We played four years ago against Atalanta and they played like this and the result was completely different," he said. "Man-marking was not the problem last week. They did it well but we didn’t play well. That is it. We have to do better. We played into their hands.

"With specific runs we would have caused them more problems but tomorrow is more difficult because they don’t have to score at all.

"But it’s not easy to approach a game when you are 3-0 up. We had it last time against Atalanta and lost 2-0 at home. We didn’t know what to do with the first result and we didn’t fight for everything as usual. We will see who deals better with the situation. If Atalanta go through then they will deserve it. If not, then something special will have happened."

Despite needing to score at least three times to maintain interest in the tie - the win on their previous visit to Atalanta is the only time they have scored the required amount in Italy - Klopp doesn't believe the task means overhauling his tactical plans.

"Conceding three goals had nothing to do with the approach," he said. "It is not as if I said, 'let them run, they will not score if we let them alone in the box'. We should do better in possession, against the ball we should be better and more consistent.

"We should play a really good Liverpool football game the way we usually play. We are a well-organised team, if we want to win the game you better not concede, that is clear. That is a big part of the match plan."

While Klopp confirmed Conor Bradley will be out until next month, Liverpool have otherwise taken a strong squad to Italy and were able to leave Stefan Bajcetic on Merseyside as he continues to build up match sharpness having not featured since September.

Of Bradley, the Reds boss said: "I think Ryan Gravenberch had a similar thing, so first week of May he should be back in training. When is that? Two weeks' time. (He) overstretched the ligaments, not serious serious but serious enough that he's not here."