Liverpool return to a familiar battleground as their Champions League defence begins.
The first round of Champions League fixtures is always an exciting part of the season, and Napoli v Liverpool is certainly one of the marquee matches of the week.
There’s a sense of déjà vu about this one: these two sides were of course in the same group last season, with Liverpool narrowly qualifying for the knockouts at Napoli’s expense after a straight shootout at Anfield. The rest is history.
The matchup is no less intriguing this time around, and it’s a particularly tough one to call. Napoli have had a pretty madcap start to the season: a 4-3 away victory against Fiorentina was followed-up by a 4-3 defeat at Juventus, all before a 2-0 home win against Sampdoria. It’s all been a little erratic from the Italian side.
Liverpool have unsurprisingly made a 100% start to the season, and while they’re quite literally unbeatable at Anfield, Carlo Ancelotti will still feel he can be competitive with the Reds on home soil.
Last season, both sides enjoyed closely-fought 1-0 home victories, and while I’m not going to back a result here, I am going to suggest under 2.5 goals, which is priced fairly generously.
Liverpool also lost to PSG and Red Star Belgrade in last year’s group, and a somewhat streaky away win at Southampton this year in the Premier League does suggest a few vulnerabilities on the road do remain.
It’s easy to expect a goalfest judging by the results of both sides so far this season, but these fixtures are always cagey—with a poor start to a Champions League group campaign generally spelling disaster, unless you’re Spurs—and a relatively low-key affair on Tuesday is worth backing.
Liverpool were poor at this ground last year, and with Liverpool and Napoli both possessing such strong defensive lines—marshalled by Virgil van Dijk and Kalidou Koulibaly respectively—this may not be the thriller many are expecting.