A closer look at Liverpool's Europa League QF opponents; Atalanta

Liverpool takes on the Italian side Thursday in the Europa League Quarterfinal.
Atalanta BC v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A
Atalanta BC v ACF Fiorentina - Serie A / Emilio Andreoli/GettyImages

We are now a few days away from Europa League Quarterfinal day and Liverpool know who they are going to be squaring off against. Atalanta are an Italian side that have made some runs in European competition before.

As the preparations ramp up let's take some time to learn a bit about Liverpool's opponents to see what kind of danger they will pose and what we can expect from them.

Current Standing in Italy

Atalanta are sitting in 6th in the Serie A table, eight points off of the top four. They have not been in very good form in domestic competition as of late as they come into this match off of back-to-back defeats to Fiorentina in the Copa Italia Semifinal 1st leg and Cagliari in Serie A action.

They have a +21 goal difference in the League this season having scored 55 goals themselves.

Their top scorer is Dutch midfielder and rumored Reds transfer target, Teun Koopmeiners, who has scored 13 goals in all competitions.

Second on the squad is Italian forward Gianluca Scamacca with 11 goals of his own. They do not have a prolific scoring weapon that they can rely on. Instead they employ a group effort to putting the ball in the net.

How do they play?

Atalanta are a side that loves to attack in a variety of ways from match to match. Their greatest strength is attacking down the wings with progressive passes that stretch the opposing defenders as much as possible

They thrive in counterattack situations so Liverpool will need to be wary of this when they are inevitably bombing forward themselves.

Manager Gian Piero Gasperini likes his side to play with confidence and create a lot of chances from multiple avenues. When they are firing they can be a hard team to slow down.

Gasperini prefers to run a 3-man defense with the most common formation being the 3-4-1-2 as it allows them the most attacking options. Their central midfielders push wider than one might expect which means the wing-backs have more liberties to charge forward.

That will certainly be a new challenge for someone like Conor Bradley to deal with. Tracking back from the Liverpool wingers will be essential to slowing this down.

When building up play, Atalanta utilizes mini passing triangles as they methodically work their way up the pitch. Gasperini encourages his midfielders and forwards to drop deeper to maintain the integrity of these triangles as the ball moves up the pitch.

Defensively they employ a man marking system that eliminates any confusion or free runners more so than a zonal scheme.

How did they get here and what is their European history?

Atalanta defeated prospective Liverpool manager Ruben Amorim's Sporting CP in the Round of 16 following a second leg win.

It was the fourth time they have won a European knockout round under Gasperini's leadership. They reached the 2019/20 Champions League Quarterfinals before falling to PSG.

This is their second trip to the Europa League Quarterfinals following their appearance at this stage during the 2021/22 campaign. So, they do not have the richest history when it comes to continental football, but they have shown the ability to make life difficult for the bigger sides.