Liverpool host Italian giants Napoli in the Champions League tonight, in what could be a crucial match to determine the group winners.
Anfield will be buzzing despite the fact both teams have already qualified, with the Reds needing a clear victory of four goals to end up top of the group ahead of their opponents. The first game between the clubs was the Serie A leader’s 4-1 drubbing of Jurgen Klopp’s men, something the German will no doubt have in the back of his mind ahead of the rematch.
Liverpool have really struggled this season, and they come into this game after another Premier League defeat – this time at the hands of Leeds. The 2-1 loss at Anfield over the weekend marked Virgil van Dijk’s first defeat as a Red at Anfield, in a record that spanned 70 games.
The defeat in many ways was symbolic of the team’s season, with a flurry of chances created but the major issues coming defensively. Liverpool are marooned in ninth in the league – a startling 15 points behind leaders Arsenal.
Fortunately, the Merseyside outfit do go into the game having had better fortunes in the Champions League, they’re on a four-game winning run which recently included a comprehensive 3-0 victory against Ajax.
So, with a long shot at topping the group tonight, here’s how Football FanCast think Liverpool will line up against Napoli tonight.
Alisson Becker will likely start in the sticks as per usual and will be hoping to be less busy than he was in Naples. In front of him, we think it could be a 4-3-3, with Trent Alexander-Arnold still getting the nod despite woes this season, but a change at left-back as Konstantinos Tsimikas is given a run-out replacing Andy Robertson.
Centre-back has been problematic for the Reds this season, and with Ibrahima Konate being declared fit, he’ll likely come in to replace a struggling Joe Gomez – Virgil van Dijk will start as usual.
Ahead of the defence, £140k-per-week captain and midfield “monster” Jordan Henderson will likely start while Thiago should keep his place after recently battling an ear infection, alongside Harvey Elliott – although the youngster did bag a goal in the last Champions League match against Ajax. The latter two did start at the weekend.
At the top end of the pitch, in-form Roberto Firmino should retain his place from Saturday, the same for goalscorer Mohamed Salah, while the Liverpool boss is likely to persist with summer signing Darwin Nunez – who has scored twice in the Champions League this season, meaning a total of three changes from the Leeds defeat.
Ahead of the game, the Liverpool manager confirmed the likely return of Konate, and also clarified that Joel Matip is still unavailable.
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Konate, Tsimikas; Henderson, Thiago, Elliot; Firmino, Salah, Nunez