Liverpool begin their Champions League campaign against an old foe on Wednesday night, with an opportunity to turn their fortunes around at Napoli.
Liverpool make the tough trip to Napoli on Wednesday, looking to make a flying start to the group stage and find some much-needed rhythm in the process.
Here’s all you need to know ahead of the game.
1. Napoli have made a strong start
Napoli started the season as one of the contenders to win the Serie A title – and the early evidence suggests they will be right in the mix come May.
Luciano Spalletti’s side have won three and drawn two in their opening five games, including a 5-2 victory away to Verona, and sit second in the table behind Atalanta.
The Italian giants may have lost defensive colossus Kalidou Koulibaly to Chelsea, but they don’t appear to be missing him.
Liverpool will be their toughest opponent of the season to date, though, so this may gauge where they stand among Europe’s elite.
2. Spalletti impressing in charge
In Spalletti, Napoli have a hugely experienced manager who has genuine pedigree after so many years at the top of Italian football.
The 63-year-old has already enjoyed spells at Roma and Inter Milan, winning back-to-back Coppa Italias with the former, and he is now looking to guide his current club to a first league title since 1990.
Jurgen Klopp has only come up against Spalletti once in his managerial career – a 4-2 win during their respective Borussia Dortmund and Zenit Saint Petersburg days.
3. Predicted Napoli XI
In terms of notable players, a few individuals stand out for Napoli ahead of the game.
Piotr Zielinski has been linked with a move to Liverpool numerous times during the Klopp era – including in 2016, when Gini Wijnaldum ended up joining instead.
The Pole is expected to start in Napoli’s midfield alongside former Fulham man Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa.
In attack, Victor Osimhen is the star man, scoring 30 goals in 67 appearances, but he is a fitness doubt going into the match.
Winger Hirving Lozano is available despite a nasty clash of heads in the weekend win away to Lazio, but Diego Demme is unavailable.
Predicted Napoli XI: Meret; Di Lorenzo, Kim, Rrahmani, Rui; Zielinski, Zambo Anguissa, Lobotka; Lozano, Kvaratskhelia, Osimhen
4. Who’s missing for Liverpool?
Liverpool squad in training on Tuesday
Defenders: Van Dijk, Gomez, Matip, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Tsimikas, Mabaya
Forwards: Salah, Diaz, Nunez, Firmino, Jota, Frauendorf
5. Possible Reds lineup
It will be interesting to see if Klopp hands Arthur his Liverpool debut at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, with the Brazilian now more in tune with his team-mates.
6. Stadio Diego Armando Maradona
Since Liverpool last made the trip to Naples, the stadium has changed its name.
In 2020, Napoli’s home ground was no longer known as Stadio San Paolo, instead switching to Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
That is, of course, in memory of the legendary Diego Maradona, who is not only one of the greatest players of all time, but also a superstar in Naples to this day.
The Argentine’s passing in November 2020 led to the club deciding to name the stadium in his honour, in what was a touching, and deserved, gesture.
It was Maradona who almost single-handedly inspired Napoli to Serie A glory in 1987, as well as winning the league three years later.
7. Struggles in Naples
This Liverpool team have dominated most of their opponents in the last four years, with few capable of getting the better of them.
Napoli have bucked that trend, however, beating them in the Champions League group stage in both 2018/19 (1-0) and 2019/20 (2-0), as well as drawing 1-1 at Anfield.
An intimidating place to visit, the Reds have underperformed badly in Naples, offering little attacking thrust, and the hope is that things are different this time around.
Liverpool’s current attacking form isn’t exactly reassuring!
8. Did you know?
Mohamed Salah is second in Liverpool’s list of all-time goalscorers in Europe, with his tally of 34 only bettered by Steven Gerrard (41).
To put his brilliance into perspective, the 30-year-old has the best games-per-goal ratio of the top 25 on the list.
Salah averages a goal every 1.74 matches for Liverpool in Europe – Gerrard’s ratio was one every 3.17 – with Roger Hunt (1.82) the closest to matching him.
The Egyptian hasn’t hit top form yet this season, but Wednesday would be an ideal time to see him spark back him into life.
9. Spanish referee takes charge
Carlos del Cerro Grande has been confirmed as the referee for Wednesday’s game.
This will be the third Liverpool match that the Spaniard has taken charge of in the Champions League, with the Reds yet to win under his watch.
The first was a 2-0 defeat at home to Atalanta in 2020/21, while the second was a 1-1 draw with Napoli at Anfield the previous season.
There’s a first for everything…
10. Follow the match with TIA
Napoli vs. Liverpool is live on BT Sport 2 from 7pm (BST), with kickoff at 8pm.
Meanwhile, Sam Millne will be in charge of This Is Anfield’s matchday live blog, keeping you company from 7.15pm.
Come on you Reds!