Napoli 2-0 Liverpool: Five talking points from the Partenopei's win
The Defending Champions Liverpool were brought back to earth in Italy as the Naples side romped to a 2-0 win.
The Reds travelled to Napoli on the back of five consecutive victories in the Premier League. They possessed a strong squad and their strongest eleven barring Alisson. Still they couldn’t break their hodoo of not getting an away win in Europe's premier club competition.
The match was played at breakneck speed with both side’s getting plenty of opportunities to score. It was a case of which club’s defence is going to hold strong.
Liverpool faltered as they conceded a contentious penalty. Even Van Dijk was at fault as his mistake directly lead to Napoli’s second goal.
We take a look at five talking points of this entertaining clash:
1. Liverpool’s dismal away form
The Reds had no away win in last year’s group stage. They narrowly went through to the next round. They were defeated 1-0 in the corresponding fixture last season.
Liverpool was lackluster in attack and dodgy at the back. If no improvement is made, things could turn bad for the defending champions in the knockout stage of the tournament. It’s weird to think such a well equipped outfit can’t win away from home.
2. Stadio San Paolo crowd was Napoli’s 12th man
Napoli fans gave Liverpool a taste of their own medicine as a 38000 partisan crowd made life hell for visiting Liverpool. Right from the warm up till the match ended, Liverpool players were roundly booed and whistled every time they touched the ball.
Stadio San Paolo is deafening and in known to create a not so inhospitable environment for the visiting teams. This pressure had an effect as even a usually unflappable Van Dijk made an uncharacteristic error leading to goal.
3. The video assistant referee (VAR)
The VAR was it again as a soft penalty for Napoli was not overturned. José Callejón went down inside the penalty area after contact from Liverpool’s full-back Andy Robertson and the referee pointed to the spot, much to the dismay of Liverpool faithfuls.
I am of the view that VAR is the need of the hour. It may make a few mistakes but helps the referees in making correct decision more often than not. We have to realize that decisions will always be contentious as it would benefit one team and the other team would feel hard done by.
4. Man-mountain Koulibaly
The Senegalese is considered one of the best defenders in the world at the moment and he showed us why he is so highly rated and why all the top European clubs are vying for his signature.
He was a rock at the back for Napoli. He tackled, he intercepted, he cleared, he even started counter attacks and then ran fifty yards to be at the end of them. He did it all.
He has that aura about him. He brings a sense of calm and assurance to the Napoli defence. He made five clearances in total with two tackles and two interceptions also to his name. He was the main culprit as to why the Liverpool’s holy trinity of attackers didn’t get a sniff of goal.
5. Coming-of-age Alexander-Arnold
The English full-back is excellent going forward but is susceptible when it comes to his primary duty. Last season, Klopp preferred Joe Gomez ahead of Alexander-Arnold in a couple of difficult away fixtures.
The rampaging right-back was up against the fleet footed Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne who had scored the winner in the corresponding fixture last year. In a coming-of-age defensive performance, he neutralized the threat of Insigne completely.
He made four tackles in total this game. The right-back also made one interception and a single clearance. He rewarded the faith shown in him by Jurgen Klopp and this battling performance would keep him in good stead for the future.
Cover image credits: ilpost.it