Jurgen Klopp has made a habit of successfully addressing Liverpool’s shortcomings during more than five years in the hotseat.
There is, though, one that continues to elude him.
And the Reds boss will be given another opportunity this evening as the Premier League champions aim to take a sizeable step towards the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Klopp and his players are in Bergamo to take on Atalanta having opened the group stage with successive victories for the first time under his tenure.
It won’t be easy. And not just because the free-scoring La Dea – Italian for goddess – have already notched 23 goals in eight games this season having totalled a whopping 98 when finishing third in Serie A alone last term, during which they also reached the Champions League quarter-finals.
Liverpool have historically found Italian opposition particularly troublesome, their country’s teams one of only two – Serbia the other – against whom the Reds have lost more than they have won in European competition.
In 31 meetings, Italian sides have come on top 14 times, with Liverpool earning 13 victories. Away from home, the Reds have won just three times.
Indeed, this is the fourth successive season in which Klopp’s side have faced a team from Italy. They edged past Roma in the semi-final in 2018, eliminated Napoli from the group stage the following season and, last year, progressed alongside the same opposition.
On each occasion, though, they were beaten on their travels. Food for thought, then, as Klopp ponders the first of two games inside five days – a Premier League trip to Manchester City follows on Sunday – that will most likely shape the coming weeks of the campaign.
“Atalanta are very good, ” says the Reds boss. “They have top, top players; top recruitment; very, very well organised; play their system with 100% conviction, they know exactly what everybody has to do.
“You can see (Alejandro) Gomez’s role in midfield, which is a completely free, floating, whatever, genius running around everywhere making it really difficult to catch him. A lot of impressive developments of the players as well.
“They obviously have in the team a really good atmosphere in general, a good mood and they are a proper fighting unit.”
Bergamo was the centre of a serious coronavirus outbreak during the first wave of the pandemic back in March.
The impact of the virus continues to be felt, with supporters still not allowed inside stadiums in Italy while group rivals Ajax travelled with only a squad of 17 to Denmark to take on FC Midtjylland tonight after 11 players reportedly tested positive.
“We know how difficult last season was for everybody, and for sure in Bergamo it was not easier; in the beginning, for sure more difficult.,” says Klopp. “And they dealt with the situation.
“They have all our respect. I know how good they are. I actually enjoyed the analysis, I enjoyed watching them because it’s really…