Liverpool’s title defence started in poor fashion after a 2-0 loss against Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo. There was a substantial pressure on the Reds as the defending champions, but Jurgen Klopp’s team never looked like being in control of the game. The team succumbed after conceding late goals to the home team.
However, this result is not the end of the world as it should be remembered that Liverpool did suffer a 1-0 defeat at this stadium in the group stages last season. After having won the title by beating Spurs, the Reds should have had more desire to avoid a repeat of the same. Napoli were able to put sustained pressure on the visitors and they were quite unlucky not to take the lead early in the game. Yet, there was a hint of controversy when VAR had to be brought in for awarding the penalty, which was converted by Dries Mertens in the 82nd minute.
Klopp, unsurprisingly, explained his dissatisfaction at being penalised with what appeared to be minimal contact. According to Sky Sports, he said:
“For me, it’s clear and obvious, no penalty, because Callejon jumps before he has any contact. But we cannot change that so we have to be critical with ourselves. We did well in a lot of moments, we played a lot of good football but we didn’t finish off.”
Napoli were able to punish Liverpool, who were in the push for an equaliser, by coming up with a late goal through Fernando Llorente. This goal brought about wild celebrations in Naples as it meant another famous victory for the Italian outfit over the Reds, who were crowned as the best team in Europe only a few months ago. Napoli also became the first team to beat a defending champion in the first game since 1994 when AC Milan suffered a similar fate.
Klopp will be disappointed with the manner in which Liverpool looked disjointed in attack. This is especially a worry for the team ahead of the game against Chelsea this weekend. After having made the long trip to Italy, the Reds once again have to travel to London for this crucial league encounter. Despite fielding some of the best players in the squad, Klopp’s team was unable to produce a magnificent performance that was worthy of a champion. Adrian was one as the best players in the team and he made some crucial saves – including one from Dries Mertens. This performance will gain confidence to the Liverpool number two in forthcoming games.
After having come up with a string of spectacular performances, it would have been easy for Liverpool to become complacent. Yet, the team was not complacent and they were just beaten by a brilliant Napoli outfit. This is the first time Liverpool have failed to score this season and it comes on the back of a string of three successive games in which the team has scored three or more goals.
Hence, Klopp is unlikely to be worried with Liverpool facing a favourable run of games over the next few weeks. Even though it will be Chelsea during the weekend, Liverpool will be rubbing their hands at the prospect of scoring a large number of goals thanks to the Blues struggling at the back with a poor defence.