Soccer / group c
LFC Final Word: Liverpool vs Napoli
Welcome to the LFC Final Word. In this series, I provide an in-depth analysis of games from a Liverpool supporter's perspective. Source Match Facts Liverpool vs Napoli Anfield Tuesday 11th December, 20:00 Result Liverpool 1 - 0 Napoli Match Summary I have to admit that I was slightly worried when I saw the Liverpool team announced an hour before kickoff. With so much on the line, I was hoping that Klopp would revert to last season's tactics of high pressing, fast-paced football. For that to happen, Liverpool probably needed to field Keita and Shaqiri in the starting 11. Instead, Klopp opted for a midfield of Henderson, Milner, and Wijnaldum. This isn't generally a midfield trio that I like to see as it severely lacks creativity, but it did give us a pre-match glimpse into Klopp's thinking. Ultimately, the Reds were planning to control the game both offensively and defensively. Napoli surprised me somewhat this evening and were a lot more reserved than I'd anticipated, especially throughout the first half of the game. I suppose it is difficult to know what to do in that situation because a draw would have been enough for them to advance to the knockout stages. Perhaps Ancelotti was worried that Liverpool would be too dangerous on the counter-attack. This is something that we actually witnessed late in the game when Napoli were forced to attack more and if Mane had slotted his chances away, Liverpool could have easily scored 3 or 4 this evening. Napoli have impressed me throughout this campaign. Notably, their talented centrebacks make things difficult for even the best of forwards, and it's no easy task to keep out a trio like Mane, Firmino, and Salah. Speaking of which, Salah is seemingly back in form after his hattrick at the weekend and slotted another fine goal away against Napoli to provide the goal that would put Liverpool through to the last 16 of the Champions League. There were a few worrying moments at the end of the game, but Alisson showed once again why Liverpool were so keen to buy him in the summer. He has demonstrated multiple times this season that he is a world-class goalkeeper and he is without a doubt a big reason as to why Liverpool are currently top of the Premier League and now through to the knockout stages of the Champions League. That will be no consolation to this Napoli team who must have thought they were destined to ruin Liverpool's party this evening, but they should hold their heads high. Group C was perhaps the 'group of death' this season and with a trio of PSG, Liverpool, and Napoli all fighting for 2 places, it was always going to be difficult for every team. I have a feeling that although disappointed tonight, Napoli could go on to win the Europa League. I've seen enough quality in this side to suggest that they're building something special at the moment. The Final Word Ultimately, the Reds got the job done tonight in a fixture that feels all too familiar for Liverpool supporters. This campaign has been difficult and Klopp's men have played poorly at times, evidenced by the 3 away losses. However, when it came down to it, this Liverpool team knew what they needed to do and they went out and executed the plan perfectly. The focus for Liverpool supporters this season is definitely the Premier League but it's always good to go through to the knockout stages of the Champions League. The main concern is the added wear and tear on the team with the extra fixtures, but it would have been even worse had the Reds been knocked out and placed in the Europa League. Attention will immediately turn to the fixture that Reds around the world love to hate; Liverpool vs Manchester United. Although Mourinho's team aren't great this season, he always has a knack of throwing a spanner in the works so Liverpool will need to go out and play at their best to earn bragging rights this season.
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