The UEFA Champions League is finally back this week, as Liverpool begin their title defense with a trip to Naples.
European champions Liverpool travel to Italy to take on Napoli in their opening game of the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League campaign.
They will meet for a second successive year in the group stage, with Napoli looking to get revenge over Jurgen Klopp’s boys, after knocking them out of the competition on away goals last season.
Both sides registered easy wins in their domestic championships during the weekend. Liverpool came from behind to beat Newcastle 3-1 at Anfield, while the Gli Azzurri defeated Sampdoria 2-0 thanks to a Dries Mertens double.
Carlo Ancelotti, who faced Liverpool in two Champions League finals previously in his career, will miss Polish striker Arkadiusz Milik for the encounter with the champions.
Lorenzo Insigne has returned to full fitness and is expected to start for the hosts, while Spanish veteran striker Fernando Llorente could feature as a substitute.
Twice as nice. ⚽⚽
— Official SSC Napoli (@en_sscnapoli) September 15, 2019
Liverpool’s first-choice goalkeeper Alisson Becker will miss the Champions League opener, with Spanish goalie Adrian taking his place between the sticks.
Nathaniel Clyne and Naby Keita are also sidelined, while Divock Origi could also miss the game after limping off with an ankle problem against Newcastle last weekend.
Talk to the press
Jurgen Klopp praised Roberto Firmino’s performance against Newcastle in a post-game interview for Liverpoolfc.com
“I was close to singing it! [the Roberto Firmino song] No, it was really good. We knew that he could play, it’s not about that, it’s just that he had the trip he had,’ he said for the club’s official website.
“They [Firmino and fellow Brazil international Fabinho] were in Miami and LA and arrived on Thursday morning after playing Tuesday night. It’s really difficult to judge these situations and that’s why we made the decision.
PURE CLASS 😍
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 16, 2019
“It was the right decision and we had changed in the game already because Div was a bit too wide, Mo was a bit too wide, Sadio, he can play that position as good as anybody, but we decided to change because we wanted Sad a bit more flexible [and] coming from the wing inside.”
Napoli and Liverpool have faced each other four times in history – in the Europa League in 2010 and in last year’s Champions League campaign.
Both their group stage encounters last season finished with the same scoreline – 1-0 win in favor of the home side.
Napoli have won only four of their last 12 UEFA Champions League matches (D3 L5) – all those victories coming at the Stadio San Paolo.
The Reds lost all three away games in last season’s group stage, but were rescued by three wins at Anfield
Klopp’s side have lost their last two matches in Italy but have been beaten in only three of their last nine away games against Italian clubs, winning three.
Liverpool have already claimed European silverware this term, beating Chelsea 5-4 on penalties after a 2-2 draw in the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul.