Salah fit to face Atlanta after testing negative for Covid-19

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LIVERPOOL forward Mohamed Salah is back in training and could face Atalanta in the Champions League on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old missed Sunday’s 3-0 win over Leicester after testing positive for coronavirus while on international duty with Egypt.

But he has since tested negative and took part in training on Monday.

Liverpool have a 100% record in this season’s Champions League and will reach the last 16 if they beat the Serie A side at Anfield (20:00 GMT).

Salah scored against Atalanta in the away fixture – which Liverpool won 5-0 earlier this month – and has netted 10 goals so far this season, two in the Champions League.

Liverpool’s list of injuries remains long, with centre-backs Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez long-term absentees, and captain Jordan Henderson, fellow midfielder Thiago Alcantara and right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold all still unavailable. Midfielder Naby Keita went off with an apparent muscular injury against Leicester on Sunday.

Reds boss Jurgen Klopp said: “Atalanta are a threat even without a point to prove. We were exceptional [in Italy]. We did everything right and it all came together. They’re a top team with a special way to play. I expect problems in this game.”

Forward Roberto Firmino could feature after scoring against Leicester at the weekend, his second goal of the season in nine appearances.

“Scoring was always important for Bobby, but he is a complete footballer,” said Klopp. “Football is like an orchestra and if you have different people for instruments some of them are louder, but all are important for the rhythm. Bobby can play without [goals] as well.

“We always celebrate goals – but this one was really emotional. The players read the newspapers and they saw some of the criticism.”

Early qualification from their Champions League group would potentially allow the Reds to rest players for the final two matches. Klopp is among the Premier League managers to criticise the fixture schedule this season.

“There are so many games to play and we will try to be as spot on as we can in specific games. It’s not all worked on the pitch because the schedule doesn’t give us that time,” added the German.

  • Watch 13 FA Cup second-round games on BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website Chances of qualifying?

Data analysts Gracenote say Liverpool have a 99.9% chance of progressing to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

Simon Gleave, head of sports analysis at Nielsen’s Gracenote, said “Liverpool are dominating their group and there is only a one in a thousand chance that they won’t be participating in the Champions League’s knockout stages.”

The Reds have a 99% chance of finishing top of Group D, according to the Euro Club Index.

The best of the stats

  • Liverpool won 5-0 in the reverse fixture against Atalanta, but they last won multiple games against an Italian side in a European campaign in 2007-08 – two victories over Inter Milan in the last-16 of the Champions League.
  • Two of Atalanta’s three heaviest losses in European competition have been at the hands of English opponents – 5-1 to Manchester City last season and 5-0 to Liverpool this month.
  • Liverpool are looking to record four consecutive victories in the Champions League for the first time since March 2009.
  • Atalanta have won their past three away games in the competition, scoring at least three goals in each.
  • Their blank against Liverpool at home ended a run of 10 games in which they scored, at an average of 2.3 per match. They have never previously failed to score in back-to-back games in the Champions League.
  • Diogo Jota has scored four goals in three Champions League games for Liverpool, and would be the fastest player to five goals in the competition for the Reds if he finds the net on Wednesday.
  • Salah has netted in his past two Champions League appearances, and doing so again on Wednesday would equal his longest scoring streak in the competition.
  • Duvan Zapata has been directly involved in five goals in five group games for Atalanta in the Champions League (four goals and one assist), with three of those goals coming in three appearances this season.
  • Josip Ilicic has scored a third of Atalanta’s away Champions League goals – four out of 12 – and he is the only player to have scored more than once away from home for the club in the competition.

BBC Sport

25 N0V 2020 @14:06 GMT

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