Liverpool 0 - 3 Napoli
Napoli Insigne 18’, Milik 29’, Younes 52’
Liverpool are back in Europe after some intense training and “friendlies” in the US. The pitch looks much better than the playing surfaces from the recent matches at least. Jurgen Klopp rolls out what seems to be his preferred first team based on the players available. Hopefully Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Georginio Wijnaldum can do their best impressions of Mohammed Salah and Sadio Mané, but I am very much looking forward to our regular attacking trio getting back.
Nice counterpress from Henderson early on leads to some slick interplay to get the ball into a dangerous area. Andrew Robertson whips in a beautiful driven cross, but Divock Origi’s attempt to redirect the ball goes wide.
Liverpool are looking calm and confident in possession early on. There have been a few long crossfield balls from deep, but Liverpool have been playing through the midfield much more than in the previous few games. The team is also pressing high up the pitch as a unit, which has lead to some quick turnovers, but no real threat as ensued in the attack.
There have been a couple of turnovers by the Liverpool defense deep in their half, but the defensive unit have managed to stay calm and deal with the trouble without too much effort. Napoli have not helped themselves with some wayward passes when they have Liverpool under pressure.
Goal Napoli - Joel Matip strides forward and slides a pass towards Origi. The ball gets tackled away and comes right out to Lorenzo Insigne. The diminutive attacker drives the ball forward and cuts inside of the galloping Matip, curling the ball inside the far post. Fantastic counter from Napoli and a classy finish.
Insigne continues to provide problems for the Liverpool defense as Trent Alexander-Arnold pushes high up the pitch to support the attack.
Virgil van Dijk is big. Virgil van Dijk is strong. Players go flying when Virgil van Dijk gives them a little nudge.
Goal Napoli - Another bit of sloppy play on the right side with Alexander-Arnold caught out. A quick counter down the sideline leads to a beautiful low cross that is turned in by Arkadiusz Milik. Milik timed his run to perfection, and Simon Mignolet was left with no chance.
Liverpool have looked decent when moving the ball, but have lacked the killer edge. Not too surprising based on the fact that they are playing central midfielders as wide forward. Napoli, on the other hand, have been lethal with their trademark lightning quick counterattacks catching Liverpool defenders out of position.
Gini Wijnaldum and Oxlade-Chamberlain have switched sides to try and jump start the attack again. The players are looking a little bit leggy, almost as if they’ve played a lot of games in intense head in a short period of time or something.
Liverpool enjoy a nice spell of possession towards the end of the first half. Nice job moving the ball around to create angles, but yet again no real threat at the end. After a brief foray forward by Napoli, Liverpool storm forward with Origi and Henderson, with the final ball being played to the juuuuuuust a bit offside (by about 5 yards) Gini Wijnaldum, who rifles the ball into the net as the linesman’s flag goes up.
The referee blows for the end of a dreary first half that has me contemplating making another pot of coffee. No one really impressed in that half, and Liverpool got exposed several times on the counter. Yay for conditioning and whatnot I guess?
No changes from Liverpool to start the second half, while Napoli make three changes. Liverpool immediately on the front foot with Ox showing some fancy footwork to beat a player on the left side of the box and cutting the ball back back to Henderson. No shot ensues, unfortunately. Liverpool keep the pressure on, and Fabinho strikes the ball right at the keeper after Henderson causes a turnover just outside the box. Better stuff here.
Napoli are called offside for approximately the 32nd time so far.
Goal Napoli - Immediately after being called offside, Napoli get the timing right as Insigne again gets behind Trent Alexander-Arnold. His shot is well parried by Mignolet, but the ball gets pushed into traffic in the middle of the box. Amin Younes toe pokes the ball, and it rolls past the sprawling Mignolet.
Mignolet saves Liverpool further embarrassment with a great reaction save after Insigne plays a beautiful defense-splitting ball into the box that Milik turned towards the goal. Good thing Liverpool don’t play anyone with a real attacking verve next weekend.
Napoli bring on several more subs. I’m just waiting for Liverpool to send in the clowns. Speaking of which, Adam Lallana is coming in, along with Dejan Lovren, Rhian Brewster, and Harry Wilson. Out come Henderson, Matip, Origi, and Ox.
Brewster showing some youthful energy pressing the keeper. He almost gets a foot to it, but the ball just squeezes past him. This is the highlight of the second half so far.
There is some soccer happening, but it’s not really anything worth describing.
The fans get on their feet as Andy Robertson comes off. Alexander-Arnold also comes off as Joe Gomez and Ki-Jana Hoever come on. Looks like Gomez at right back and Hoever at left back. Both immediately get involved in snuffing out a Napoli attack.
Brewster with a nice flick on to Harry Wilson, who does a great job driving across the face of the defender to draw a free kick about 22 yards out. Wilson sends the free kick well over the bar.
Here come the rest of the yutes, with Harvey Elliott making his Liverpool debut. Bobby Duncan, Adam Lewis, and everyone’s favorite ginger Sepp van den Berg all come on.
Elliott immediately shows some slick footwork, and combines with Brewster at the top of the box. Really nice stuff right off the bat!
Almost an own goal forced by Liverpool! A great cross into the box causes a Napoli defender to flick the ball into the body of his own keeper. Liverpool looking much brighter with the youngsters looking to make an impact.
Adam Lallana tries to drop the ball over the top to Harry Wilson, but the ball gets headed out as far as Brewster. Brewster gets the ball partially under control and pushes it towards Elliott, who skies the ball over the goal on the volley.
Wilson forces a fantastic save! He gets the ball on the top right side of the box, and cuts inside on his favored left foot before arrowing the ball for the top left corner. The keeper just gets a hand to it to turn the ball around the post. Wilson has been lively in his time today.
A few minutes of extra time, and that’s how the match will end.
It’s preseason, so don’t read too much into the scoreline. That being said, it’s a little disconcerting that the back line that was one of the best in Europe last season is consistently getting opened up. There was some nice build up play through the midfield, but Wijnaldum and Oxlade-Chamberlain did little to quell concerns about the depth behind Salah and Mané. Harry Wilson looked to have more attacking edge than the two central midfielders masquerading as wide forwards, and may be making a case to Klopp for his inclusion in the Liverpool side. With everyone except for Sadio Mané set to train in France, let’s hope Liverpool get their swagger back.