Reigning Champions Liverpool stumbled on the Napoli test again as they lost 0-2 against Carlo Ancelotti’s men twice in successive years at the San Paolo in Naples. Liverpool had a very drab away outing in the group stage as they also lost to Red Star Belgrade last season and yet manage to clinch the Champions League title picking up from when it mattered the most for the Reds.
Although this time it was a much open game with both sides creating chances and keeping the opposition goalkeeper busy with their shots throughout the game. However, it was a late challenge from Andrew Robertson on Jose Callejon in the penalty area as Dries Mertens handed the Partenopei with the lead with only ten minutes remaining in the clock. Later in injury time substitute Fernando Llorente made it 2-0 when he latched on to a ball in the final third after miscommunication from the Liverpool defenders.
Adrian under the Liverpool bar was in tremendous form as he came up with some exceptional saves. The Spaniard made a full stretch effort to tip Mertens shot over the bar in the first half which was basically the best piece of play from the entire game.
Liverpool had their chances with Sadio Mane having an off day at the office in terms of finishing, the Senegalese forward is mostly on target but he squandered few easy chances against Napoli while Alex Meret also did his best to stop Mohamad Salah from scoring.
Adrian proved himself yet again
The former West Ham United custodian has been in the run of terrific form lately. He was tremendous in the Supercup and received a fair share of plaudits for it but this performance against Napoli has taken that a top above.
Adrian pulled off a majestic double save to deny Fabian Ruiz and while he threw himself up and down he saved everything that came his way. However the full stretched save from Mertens shot to tip it over the bar was by far the best play of the night. His resilience was broken by an unfortunate penalty and a late goal in the dying moments of the match. But that does not take away anything from the former West Ham shot-stopper who proved Klopp that he is worthy of replacing Allison whenever needed.
Liverpool’s Champions League group stage away game woes continue
It was not a convincing group stage for the Reds last season as they managed to win only three games out of six and they have carried that form to this season as well. however this time they weren’t dominated totally by Ancelotti’s men as they had their say in the game. But the Serie outfit were better in taking their chances in front of goal.
However, Klopp will have to be very careful and should take this loss as an alarm for thing to come in future. It is not easy to win the Champions League but defending it is even tougher, so if Liverpool wants to defend their title then they have to be more clinical in front of goal and also be more compact defensively.
Dries Mertens shines in the new role under Ancelotti
The 32-year old Belgium international was previously a winger when he joined Napoli from PSV Eindhoven but Maurizio Sarri transformed him as a centre forward in a conventional 4-3-3 formation and Mertens started delivering in all cylinders. However with Carlo Ancelotti, the Belgian forward is now given the role to play in 4-2-2 as a withdrawn striker partnering Mexican sensation Hirving Lozano upfront.
Mertens was mostly dropping down and helping his midfielders in the creative aspect of the game and linking play and his goals have not dried up in the process as he has already scored four in as many games this season for the Partenopei.