Liverpool – SSC Napoli: Aggressive performance sees last year’s finalists into the Champions League knockout stages (1-0)
Mohamed Salah scored the deciding goal as Liverpool edged past Napoli at Anfield to progress into the Champions League Round of Sixteen. Liverpool’s intensity disturbed Napoli’s play, and the visitors struggled to gain rhythm which allowed the home side to dominate the match for large periods.
Tactical analysis and match report by Josh Williams.
Group C was arguably the tightest ahead of the final round of group stage matches. Napoli was positioned on top with nine points, PSG in second on eight points, and Liverpool in third place with six. PSG were strong favourites to progress, as they faced Red Star Belgrade, the only side in the group that didn’t have a chance to qualify. That scenario basically meant that Liverpool and Napoli had to battle for the last qualification spot in what was effectively a knockout tie.
There were several permutations attached to the match, with Liverpool knowing that a win was essential to progress. A 1-0 would suffice, and if Napoli managed to score, Klopp’s side would then have to win by two clear goals.
Both sides approached the match on the back of 4-0 wins in their domestic leagues, so confidence certainly was not going to be an issue. However, Liverpool struggled the last time these two sides met, as a late goal resulted in Napoli running out deserved winners.
Jürgen Klopp made three changes from the team he fielded on the weekend, with Xherdan Shaqiri, Fabinho and Naby Keïta being displaced by James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. The 4-3-3 has been Klopp’s go-to formation for the big matches this season because . . .