Can Salah help Reds crack Stadio San Paolo? – 4 key talking points ahead of Napoli vs. Liverpool

3 October 2018

Liverpool face Napoli in Italy as they look to build on their opening Champions League win over Group C favourites Paris Saint-Germain.


Here, Press Association Sport looks at some of the main talking points ahead of the clash.


Is Salah Stuttering?

The Egypt international is having to live up to the expectations set by last season’s 44-goal form but it is too early to make a judgement on him this campaign.

He is a long way from being in the goalscoring crisis some would suggest as his current tally of three is only one down on the same time 12 months ago.

He did not really hit top gear until November and while he may not be playing with the same confidence—which could be due to a World Cup hangover—he is still getting in similar positions and doing the same things which brought him such success in maiden season.

 

Sturridge Can Be the New Supersub

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 26, 2018: Liverpool's Daniel Sturridge celebrates scoring the first goal during the Football League Cup 3rd Round match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The England striker may not be happy with is role but he appears to have accepted, indeed embraced it, so far.

Four goals, three in his last three, have come from just 187 minutes of action.

He has scored on his only two starts but those opportunities were due to an eye injury to Jurgen Klopp’s main man Roberto Firmino and when the Brazil international was rested for the League Cup.

Realistically there is no conceivable way he will replace the all-action forward who is key to the manager’s game plan.

However, having experienced an eye-opening four months on loan at West Brom last season Sturridge has probably realised he can achieve more providing firepower off the bench for Liverpool than he can anywhere else.

He remains the best finisher at the club.

 

Midfield Merry-Go-Round

CHARLOTTE, USA - Saturday, July 21, 2018: Liverpool's Naby Keita during a training session at the Bank of America Stadium ahead of a preseason International Champions Cup match between Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

James Milner’s brilliant form and Georginio Wijnaldum’s improvement and versatility in being able to switch from a No. 6 to a No. 8 has left Klopp effectively rotating Jordan Henderson and £53 million summer arrival Naby Keita.

The latter started brightly but has tailed off slightly while Liverpool have looked better with Henderson dictating passes as the midfield pivot.

The Champions League may suit better Keita after his experience of a more continental approach to football with RB Leipzig but the options available to him means Klopp has difficult decisions to make.

And that is not even considering £43 million summer signing Fabinho, who is still trying to get up to speed with Klopp’s tactics.

 

Can Liverpool Crack the Stadio San Paolo?

NAPELS, ITALY - Thursday, October 21, 2010: SSC Napoli supporters light a flare as their side take on Liverpool during the UEFA Europa League Group K match at the Stadio San Paolo. (Pic by: David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Napoli have won eight of 12 Champions League matches at home, although they have lost two of their last three.

In their last 26 European fixtures at the San Paolo they have won 16 and lost just four and are unbeaten in all competitions at home since March.

Liverpool have scored 50 in their last 16 Champions League matches, finding the net at least twice in 10 off their last 12.

They have lost just two of their last 14 European matches but their record in Italy has seen them win just three of 11 visits, and only one in the last decade (Udinese, 2014).

Liverpool have been to the San Paolo only once before, in 2010, and with a team considerably weaker than the current one drew 0-0.

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