Liverpool will look to bounce back to winning ways as they brace themselves for a trip to Italy to face Napoli in the UEFA Champions League.
Carlo Ancelotti is yet to have his desired effect on Napoli just yet. Gli Azzurri are second in Serie A but were handed a reality check by Juventus over the weekend. Ancelotti and his men have been made aware of the gap between Juventus and Napoli, something the storied manager will hope to bridge during his tenure in Naples.
Liverpool’s winning streak has been snapped. They suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of Chelsea in the Carabao Cup, with the Blues ending their league winning streak, holding Liverpool to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge. Jurgen Klopp will now be motivating his team to leave the week behind and aim to return to winning ways.
Napoli stuttered in their first game of the 2018-19 Champions League, playing out a 0-0 draw against FK Crvena Zvezda, also known as Red Star Belgrade. Liverpool, on the other hand, nabbed all three points with a late winner against PSG. As the two teams prepare to meet each other on Wednesday, we take a closer look at the two sides.
Team News & Tactics
Carlo Ancelotti will be without Amin Younes and Vlad Chiriches, who are still sidelined with their respective injuries. Mario Rui is expected to start against Liverpool. The full-back will not be available during the weekend, having been sent off in the 3-1 loss to Juventus. Alex Meret continues to be sidelined with a fractured arm and David Ospina will deputise in his stead, as has been the case so far.
Raul Albiol and Kalidou Koulibaly have been Ancelotti’s choice centre-back pairing and the same is to continue against Liverpool. Elseid Hysaj put in a torrid outing against Juventus and could lose his place to Kevin Malcuit on the right.
Piotr Zielinski and Jose Callejon are both expected to retain their spots out wide in midfield. Allan has impressed Carlo Ancelotti and has become a regular fixture for Napoli. The other midfield spot in the 4-4-1-1 has heavy competition. But, Napoli faithful Marek Hamsik is likely to get the nod ahead of others for the Liverpool game.
Lorenzo Insigne and Arkadiusz Milik will likely be the ones tasked with the responsibility of creating and finishing chances for Napoli.
Probable Lineup (4-4-1-1): Ospina; Malcuit, Albiol, Koulibaly, Rui; Callejon, Allan, Hamsik, Zielinski; Insigne; Milik
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is still on the sidelines. The likes of Adam Lallana and Divock Origi are nearing full fitness but are out for the game against Napoli. Alisson Becker should retain his spot between the posts, with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez likely to continue being the centre-back pairing.
The full back four should ideally remain the same, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson on either side of the central defence. Naby Keita is expected to come into the lineup after he was benched during the 1-1 draw against Chelsea.
The midfield general should take the place of club captain Jordan Henderson, with James Milner and Fabinho likely to partner Keita in the middle of the park.
Daniel Sturridge’s heroic cameo might just have convinced Jurgen Klopp to hand the English international a start. Mohamed Salah has been poor and was even subbed off for Xherdan Shaqiri during the weekend. Expect Salah to make way for Sturridge, with Shaqiri also coming into the lineup, likely for Sadio Mane, who started both their fixtures against Chelsea last week.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Fabinho, Milner; Shaqiri, Sturridge, Firmino
1. Liverpool and Napoli have met each other on three occasions, with the Reds yet to taste defeat (2W, 1D).
2. The only home game for Napoli against Liverpool came in the 2010-11 season of the Europa League, with the two teams playing out a 0-0 draw.
3. Liverpool have conceded at least 2 goals in their last 4 Champions League matches.
4. Mohamed Salah has an average record against Napoli, with a goal and 2 assists to show for in 5 appearances against the home side.
5. Daniel Sturridge averages a goal every 47 minutes this season, with 4 goals in 7 appearances in all competitions this season.
Player to Watch
The Napoli stalwart has not managed to convince Carlo Ancelotti enough to warrant a regular place within the starting eleven week-in week-out. Hamsik is likely to be given a chance to impress his manager against Liverpool on Wednesday. Allan has already locked down one of the two available positions in midfield.
It will be up to the superstar to show Ancelotti that he deserves the same status as Allan.
Napoli 1-1 Liverpool
Napoli are not going to roll over and make it easy for Liverpool. While PSG are a top European side, their defence had glaring errors in their defeat to Liverpool, something Carlo Ancelotti will prepare his side so as to not emulate the French giants.
Expect an even encounter, with Napoli’s counter-attacking cancelling out Liverpool’s gegenpressing and possession football.