Although the story obviously ended well for Liverpool in the Champions League last season, their game against Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo in last year’s group stages was one of the few disappointments. The team was in the midst of a lull in their performances, and it showed when they fell 1-0 to the Italian side after a Lorenzo Insigne goal late in the game.
Jordan Henderson is hoping for a different result this time around, now that Liverpool have been once again placed with Carlo Ancelotti’s side in the group stage.
“Well, when we came here last year we didn’t perform very well at all, I’m sure the manager will tell you that,” Henderson admitted. “I can remember the analysis after that game and I think we improved a lot since that game and we used that game to improve a lot. Hopefully tomorrow night will be a different story, the performance level is much better. If that’s the case then we have a better chance and a better opportunity to win of course. But it will still be a tough challenge because Napoli are a really good side. “
Expectations will be high for the Reds, who go into this year’s competition as the current holders, having reached the final two years running. The captain pushed back at the idea that Liverpool are favourites in Europe this season.
“I think it’s too early to be saying stuff like that,” he admonished. “For us, we’ve started the season really well and we just want to continue that on. We still feel we can improve and still get better, so that’s what we try to do tomorrow night, try to give everything and start the campaign off really well.”
Liverpool have had a perfect start to the Premier League, winning their first five games and sitting five points clear at the top of the table. Tuesday’s game is when the season starts to get difficult, though, as the fixtures start to pile up and the team is playing twice a week.
Klopp attempted to give Roberto Firmino a game off against Newcastle on Saturday, but an injury to Divock Origi saw the Brazilian subbed in midway through the first half. Henderson himself sat out the weekend match, which means it’s nailed on that he’ll be one of the midfield three.
This Napoli match also begins a run of four straight away games that finishes off September. On Sunday, the Reds head to Chelsea in the league, then it’s Milton Keynes in the League Cup, and Sheffield United in the league to end the month.