Napoli vs Liverpool
| Wednesday, October 3rd |
Champions League | Stadio San Paolo
8:00 PM BST / 3:00 PM EST
The Reds are coming up on the end of their hellacious fixture run, and after a perfect start to the season, a double-header against Chelsea has seen them both drop points and taste defeat, in the league and League Cup, respectively. Stern tests remain before the international break arrives, though, and while many have their eyes fixed on next weekend’s clash with Manchester City, there is first the challenge of going to Naples and getting a result.
The partenopei have begun their season as they ended it, in second place behind Juventus, and come directly off a 3-1 defeat to the bianconeri. With Maurizio Sarri moving to England, Napoli have appointed one of the winningest coaches in world football, former Liverpool managerial candidate Carlo Ancelotti. Rarely staying in one place for long, the Italian favours a less distinctive style of football than his predecessor, but he has also picked up four league titles, two domestic cups and three Champions League titles in the past 15 years, so it becomes difficult to argue with his methods.
Under Ancelotti, Napoli have typically lined up in a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2, and the Italian has experimented with a number of central midfield constellations to fill the void left behind by former playmaker Jorginho, with Allan often partnering club legend Marek Hamsik and former Liverpool target Piotr Zielinski. Up front, Lorenzo Insigne is in spectacular form, with five goals and an assist in the league so far, while José Callejón, Dries Mertens and Arkdiusz Milik have managed five goals between them.
After drawing with Red Star Belgrade in their opening fixture, and a double header against Paris Saint-Germain looming, Napoli will be desperate to collect all three points on Wednesday, or risk falling dangerously behind the pack in the chase to qualify for the knockout stages.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Clyne, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Keïta; Salah, Firmino, Shaqiri
As mentioned, Pep Guardiola’s daunting Manchester City come to Anfield on Sunday, and Jürgen Klopp will undoubtedly have that game in mind when selecting his side for tomorrow. James Milner started both Chelsea games and will be needed at the weekend, so the Englishman looks likely to be rested, as does Georginio Wijnaldum, opening the door for Naby Keita and Fabinho.
At the back, Trent Alexander-Arnold could be due for a recharge ahead of his showdown with Leroy Sane at the weekend, giving Nathaniel Clyne the chance to deputise, while Sadio Mane has accumulated more minutes on the pitch than any other Liverpool outfield player, making the Senegalese attacker the perfect candidate for a lovely rest on the bench.
A win in Naples would effectively put the Reds two wins away from qualifying for the knockout stages, and with two eminently winnable games against Red Star coming up, Klopp will want to put the group stage to rest as quickly as possible, allowing his team to focus on the formidable challenge of wresting the Premier League away from Manchester.
The Officials (HUN)
Referee: Viktor Kassai
Assistants: György Ring, Vencel Tóth
Fourth official: Peter Berettyán
Additional assistants: Tamás Bognar, Sandor Szabo
Kickoff is set for 7:00 PM GMT/3:00 PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.