Liverpool’s Champions League hopes hang in the balance on Tuesday evening, with victory over Napoli required to reach the knockout stages.
Liverpool vs. Napoli
Tuesday, December 11, 2018 — 8pm (GMT)
Champions League Group Stage (6)
Referee: Damir Skomina (SVN)
The Reds are top of the Premier League and everything seems good in the world.
If things are looking up in the league, Liverpool are in a more perilous position in the Champions League, as Napoli come to town.
Anfield will be rocking for the visit of Carlo Ancelotti’s men, on a night that could be full of twists and turns in Group C.
Assuming Paris Saint-Germain prevail away to Red Star Belgrade, which is to be expected, the Reds will need to either win 1-0 or by a two-goal margin to reach the last 16.
It is far from an impossible assignment and one that Liverpool will feel they are capable of achieving, especially with the famous Anfield roar behind them.
Clear heads and patience will both be called for, with Ancelotti’s vast experience sure to make a talented Napoli outfit tough to overcome.
It would be a blow to crash out of Europe’s top competition at the first hurdle, especially after last season’s heroics.
Let’s hope Liverpool produce another Champions League display for the ages, as they look to avoid the search for European Cup number six going up in smoke.
That is dependent on which formation Klopp opts for, with the Reds manager jumping between 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-3 systems this season.
Napoli are in a good bill of health ahead of the game, but Vlad Chiriches (ACL) and Simone Verdi (thigh) are both missing.
Ancelotti rested key man Dries Mertens in Saturday’s 4-0 win over Frosinone, while Lorenzo Insigne and Marek Hamsik didn’t play the full 90 minutes.
Indeed, Napoli made a host of changes for the victory, showcasing their strength in depth—just as Liverpool did midweek against Burnley.
History of the Fixture
This is only the fourth competitive meeting between Liverpool and Napoli—the Reds won 5-0 in a pre-season game in the summer—which is surprising, considering the rich European heritage of both clubs.
The two teams met twice in the Europa League group stage back in 2010/11, during Roy Hodgson’s doomed spell in charge at Anfield.
A much-weakened Reds side managed a spirited 0-0 draw at Stadio San Paolo, before a Steven Gerrard masterclass was delivered back on Merseyside.
The legendary former skipper bagged a brilliant second-half hat-trick to secure a 3-1 victory, having only been introduced at half-time.
The third encounter took place in October, as Liverpool performed poorly on their travels and succumbed to a 1-0 defeat.
Insigne’s last-gasp strike sealed a deserved win for the hosts; it is a goal that could end up being priceless come Wednesday morning.
Did You Know?
Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 18 European matches at Anfield, winning 13 and drawing the other five.
Klopp has never lost a home game in Europe with the Reds, with the last defeat coming under Brendan Rodgers in 2014/15, when Real Madrid cruised to a 3-0 Champions League victory.
It highlights what a fortress Klopp has made Anfield since arriving in October 2015.
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Napoli – Last five results (all competitions)
Won 4-0 vs. Frosinone
Won 2-1 vs. Atalanta
Won 3-1 vs. Red Star
Drew 0-0 vs. Chievo
Won 2-1 vs. Genoa
Speaking at Melwood on Monday, Klopp spoke forcefully about the racist abuse former Liverpool man Raheem Sterling suffered at Chelsea on Saturday:
“I thought his reaction was just brilliant. You saw his face. He gave the right response, not to react for these people.
“They don’t deserve any reaction, they don’t deserve any respect.
“I am obviously not surprised that things like this still happen but I like the fact that we put the finger on it and say ‘You cannot say what you want, it is not possible’.
“As long as people are silly enough to do this, they need to be punished for it, that is how it is.
“I am sure 95 per cent of people or more are not like this so we should try to find the right amount of attention for these people.
“Yes, punish them but do not talk too much about them because they do not deserve that we talk about them.”
TV & Live Blog Info
Liverpool vs. Napoli is live on BT Sport 2 from 7pm (GMT) with kickoff at 8pm.
Henry Jackson is in charge of This is Anfield’s matchday live blog from 7.15pm—keep him company throughout the evening.