Sports Mole previews Tuesday’s Champions League clash between Liverpool and Napoli, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Liverpool must beat Napoli by three or more goals if they are to leapfrog them into top spot in Group A.
The visitors, meanwhile, are aiming to maintain their 100% record in this season’s Champions League.
Liverpool booked their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the sixth successive season under Jurgen Klopp by beating Ajax 3-0 in Amsterdam last week.
The Reds were on the back foot for much of the first half before Mohamed Salah‘s goal against the run of play broke the deadlock three minutes before half-time, with strikes from Darwin Nunez and Harvey Elliott after the break sealing their team’s progression to the last-16.
However, Klopp’s side’s inconsistent season continued with a 2-1 defeat at home to Leeds United in the Premier League on Saturday, with Crysencio Summerville sending the away fans into raptures with a dramatic winner with only one minute of normal time remaining.
The defeat was the first time that Virgil van Dijk has lost on home turf in the Premier League since joining the club in January 2018, while ending Liverpool’s five-and-a-half-year unbeaten run in the league in front of a full capacity crowd at Anfield.
With the likes of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain looking like potential group winners, Klopp would love to avoid facing any of them in the last-16 by beating Napoli by three or more goals on Tuesday, but on current form that is a very tall order.
Indeed, Napoli’s 4-0 victory against Sassuolo on Saturday extended their winning run to a remarkable 13 matches in all competitions, with Luciano Spalletti‘s side appearing to be one of the best teams in Europe this season, at least on current form.
Their 3-0 win against Rangers last week took their record in this season’s Champions League to five wins from five matches, having scored a remarkable 20 goals across those victories, which is four more goals for than any other team in this season’s group stage.
However, with top spot not quite assured for them yet despite being in a strong position in terms of their to head-to-head record with Liverpool having beaten them 4-1 on matchday one, Spalletti will be urging his players to send out a statement by piling on the misery for Klopp’s men.
While a draw or even a narrow defeat would be no disaster given that their hard work has arguably already been done in terms of their Champions League campaign, the Neapolitans will not want to see their winning run come to an end lightly on such a grand stage.
Liverpool Champions League form:
Liverpool form (all competitions):
Napoli Champions League form:
Napoli form (all competitions):
Liverpool will remain without Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota, Joel Matip and Arthur due to long-term injuries, while Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain were not named in the Reds’ Champions League squad due to having major muscle issues themselves.
With an important league game against Tottenham Hotspur ahead of them on Sunday, Klopp may be considering making changes for the visit of Napoli, with James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Ibrahima Konate likely to replace Trent Alexander-Arnold, Fabinho and Joe Gomez in the starting XI.
Napoli, meanwhile, are likely to travel without Salvatore Sirigu and Amir Rrahmani due to muscle strains, while Matteo Politano is only one booking away from incurring a one-match suspension in this competition and could therefore be rested.
Likewise, Victor Osimhen – who scored a hat-trick in his side’s 4-0 win against Sassuolo at the weekend – may not be risked having struggled with injury himself this season, with Giovanni Simeone potentially leading the line after bagging a brace against Rangers last week.
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Milner, Konate, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Elliott, Henderson, Jones; Salah, Firmino, Carvalho
Napoli possible starting lineup:
Meret; Di Lorenzo, Ostigard, Kim, Rui; Ndombele, Lobotka, Elmas; Lozano, Simeone, Raspadori
We say: Liverpool 2-2 Napoli
With both teams likely to rest players given the unlikelihood of this match having any real impact on their seasons, we can envisage an entertaining score draw at Anfield on Tuesday.
Liverpool will be desperate not to lose for a second successive home match, while Napoli will be determined to continue their winning streak, but they may have to settle for a point.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.