Liverpool’s Europa League dream dashed: Klopp’s farewell in jeopardy

Liverpool’s aspirations of granting Jurgen Klopp a fairy-tale farewell in the Europa League final in Dublin next month hang precariously in the balance. Klopp’s imminent departure from the club at the season’s end intensified the desire of his squad to extend their campaign to May 22, the date of the final. However, a stunning 3-0 defeat at home to Atalanta in the first leg of the quarter-finals casts doubt on this ambition.

The defeat left Klopp visibly bewildered, acknowledging fans before vanishing down the tunnel. It marked Liverpool’s first home loss since February 2023, halting a 33-game unbeaten streak. The match was riddled with errors, reminiscent of their prior heavy defeats against Real Madrid. Atalanta, though trailing significantly in Serie A, capitalized on Liverpool’s lapses with clinical precision.

Former Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock labeled the performance as one of the worst under Klopp, citing poor possession and numerous mistakes. Klopp, offering no excuses, admitted to a dismal showing, emphasizing the isolation of his players on the pitch.

Liverpool now faces a tight schedule, with games against Crystal Palace and a crucial second leg against Atalanta. The team’s fatigue was evident against Atalanta, with Warnock remarking on tired minds and bodies.

The defeat marks a stark contrast to Liverpool’s stellar season, prompting former winger Steve McManaman to declare that the “wheels had come off.” Despite this setback, Klopp and his team remain hopeful of overturning the deficit, drawing inspiration from past comebacks in European competitions. Captain Virgil van Dijk stressed the importance of maintaining belief, while former forward Peter Crouch acknowledged the daunting task ahead in Bergamo.