Liverpool need massive win over Napoli to top group

Liverpool must beat Napoli by three or more goals if they are to leapfrog them into top spot in Group A.

The visitors, meanwhile, are aiming to maintain their 100 per cent record in this season’s Champions League.

• Pablo Simeone – Napoli

Liverpool booked their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League for the sixth successive season under Jurgen Klopp by beating Ajax 3-0 in Amsterdam last week.

The Reds were on the back foot for much of the first half before Mohamed Salah’s goal against the run of play broke the deadlock three minutes before half-time, with strikes from Darwin Nunez and Harvey Elliott after the break sealing their team’s progression to the last-16.

However, Klopp’s side’s inconsistent season continued with a 2-1 defeat at home to Leeds United in the Premier League on Saturday, with Crysencio Summerville sending the away fans into raptures with a dramatic winner with only one minute of normal time remaining.

The defeat was the first time that Virgil van Dijk has lost on home turf in the Premier League since joining the club in January 2018, while ending Liverpool’s five-and-a-half-year unbeaten run in the league in front of a full capacity crowd at Anfield.

With the likes of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain looking like potential group winners, Klopp would love to avoid facing any of them in the last-16 by beating Napoli by three or more goals on Tuesday, but on current form that is a very tall order.

Indeed, Napoli’s 4-0 victory against Sassuolo on Saturday extended their winning run to a remarkable 13 matches in all competitions, with Luciano Spalletti’s side appearing to be one of the best teams in Europe this season, at least on current form.

Their 3-0 win against Rangers last week took their record in this season’s Champions League to five wins from five matches, having scored a remarkable 20 goals across those victories, which is four more goals for than any other team in this season’s group stage.

However, with top spot not quite assured for them yet despite being in a strong position in terms of their to head-to-head record with Liverpool having beaten them 4-1 on matchday one, Spalletti will be urging his players to send out a statement by piling on the misery for Klopp’s men.

While a draw or even a narrow defeat would be no disaster given that their hard work has arguably already been done in terms of their Champions League campaign, the Neapolitans will not want to see their winning run come to an end lightly on such a grand stage. – Reuters

Champions League

fixtures today:

Leverkusen v Club Brugge

Viktoria Plzen v Barca

Liverpool v Napoli

Bayern  v Inter

Rangers v Ajax

Marseille v Tottenham

Porto v Atletico Madrid

Sporting v E. Frankfurt

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