Premier League • England

Liverpool ecstatic with crucial and most valuable Atalanta star to miss both legs of Europa League tie

Giorgio Scalvini, Atalanta

Liverpool will not have to face Giorgio Scalvini (left) against Atalanta

The chances of Liverpool making it through to the Europa League semi-finals have been given a big lift, with Atalanta reportedly having to cope without key star Giorgio Scalvini.

Liverpool won four out of their six Europa League group matches to finish top of Group E, with Toulouse following them through in second place. The fact Liverpool qualified in top spot meant they avoided the knockout round play-offs.

Instead, Jurgen Klopp’s side faced Sparta Prague in the round of 16. Liverpool blew the Czech giants away over two legs, picking up a huge 11-2 aggregate victory.

The Reds have been drawn against Italian outfit Atalanta in the quarter-finals. While Gian Piero Gasperini’s side only sit sixth in the Italian top flight, they can still be very tricky opponents.

Indeed, they finished third in Serie A for three seasons in a row between 2019 and 2021, while also reaching the Champions League last eight in the 2019-20 campaign.

However, Atalanta’s task of dumping Liverpool out of Europe has just been made significantly harder. Scalvini, the 20-year-old defender who has forced his way into the Italy national team, will miss both matches against Klopp’s men.

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The centre-back went down injured during Atalanta’s 3-0 away win over Napoli on Saturday and was ultimately substituted.

As per Tutto Atalanta, Scalvini has injured his hamstring and now faces an extended period on the sidelines. He will be out of action for the rest of April.

Giorgio Scalvini to miss Atalanta vs Liverpool games

That means Scalvini will not be available to face Liverpool in the first leg at Anfield on Thursday April 11, or the return leg in Italy on Thursday April 18.

Despite Scalvini’s tender age, he has established himself as a vital player for Atalanta in the last two seasons.

He made 34 appearances last term and has already matched that figure this campaign.

The right-footed star is an intelligent player who helps Atalanta play out from the back, while he is also an imposing figure at 6ft 4in, which means he can challenge big strikers.

Scalvini’s top performances have seen him become Atalanta’s most valuable player, with transfermarkt rating him at €45m (£39m). That is more than other notable stars such as Teun Koopmeiners, Charles De Ketelaere and Gianluca Scamacca.

Without Scalvini in their backline, Atalanta will be more susceptible to Liverpool players such as Darwin Nunez and Mo Salah getting in behind and causing all sorts of problems.

Atalanta will also have less protection from set pieces, which could play into the hands of Virgil van Dijk.

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