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Liverpool have had a tricky start to the 2022/23 season and the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona is not an easy place to go in European competition.
Back Napoli or draw (-114 at Caesars Sportsbook) in the double chance market
Pick made on 09/05/2022 at 10:21 AM EST
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Liverpool have had a difficult start to the 2022/23 season. A Community Shield victory over Manchester City at the end of July was not, in fact, an indication of what lay ahead. Liverpool have won only two of their first six matches of the Premier League season. They are already five points behind the title favorites Manchester City – far from a fatal deficit, but an unwelcome one at this early stage of the campaign given the relentless consistency of Pep Guardiola’s charges in recent years.
Performances as well as results have been mostly subpar. True, Liverpool did equal a Premier League record by thrashing Bournemouth 9-0. But their other win, a 2-1 defeat of Newcastle United in the recent midweek round of fixtures, was secured with a winning goal in the eighth minute of second-half stoppage time. Liverpool were not at their best in draws with Fulham, Crystal Palace or Everton. They were dismal in a 2-1 loss to arch-rivals Manchester United on matchday three.
There is still time for Liverpool to click into gear. Injuries have not helped, particularly in midfield. They will be a much tougher proposition once Thiago Alcantara is fit again and summer signing Darwin Nunez has settled into English soccer. Mohamed Salah should pick up soon, while it is not like there have been no bright spots: Harvey Elliott has been fantastic up to now, and Alisson Becker remains as reliable as ever between the posts.
Champions League runners-up last term, Liverpool will be aiming to go one better this term. Klopp’s team is arguably better suited to knockout soccer than a round-robin league format. Even so, the Reds will need to improve quickly if they are to achieve their objectives.
Napoli and Liverpool are joined in Group A by Ajax and Rangers. All four teams will be targeting a top-two finish, which makes this one of the most exciting groups of this season’s Champions League. The best online sportsbooks predict it will be Napoli that joins Liverpool in the round of 16, but there is everything to play for.
Few clubs in Europe have undergone as much change as Napoli over the summer. The manager, Luciano Spalletti, remains in place – and that is good news for the Partenopei. But squad stalwarts like Kalidou Koulibably, Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne, who racked up a combined 1148 competitive appearances for the club, have moved on. In their place came Kim Min-jae, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Tanguy Ndombele, among others.
Napoli have made a positive start to the Serie A season, although they cannot yet be considered genuine title contenders. Still, Spalletti’s side will be full of confidence after taking 11 points from the first 15 available – a run which includes an impressive 2-1 victory over Lazio last time out.
Napoli will now turn their attention to the Champions League, as they strive to reach the knockout rounds for only the third time in the last decade.
The Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, renamed so in 2020 following the death of Napoli’s greatest ever player, is not the prettiest ground in Europe. The athletics track around the perimeter of the pitch means that the fans are not especially close to the action. The seats are squashed together. And whereas the most historic stadia tend to be in the heart of the city, Napoli’s home is around eight miles outside the center.
Yet for all that, there are fewer better places in Europe to watch a soccer match – particularly a big evening game under the floodlights. Napoli is a soccer city to the core; its fans are famous for their fervor and passion. The visit of Liverpool on Wednesday will thus be quite the spectacle.
Klopp’s side have played in hostile environs before and they will not be intimidated by the noise, even though the volume of the crowd will give Napoli a boost. But putting that to one side, Spalletti’s side have the quality to cause Liverpool problems. The Reds may have kept a clean sheet against Everton at the weekend, but they still do not look right defensively. Napoli can exploit that.
A win will be difficult: for all that they have been inconsistent so far in 2022/23, Liverpool remain one of the strongest sides in Europe. But the Italian outfit have not lost any of their three meetings with the Reds on home soil, and we suggest backing them to extend that unbeaten run to four matches here.
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|Teams||Napoli vs Liverpool|
|Location||Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples, Italy|
|Time||Wednesday, 7 September 2022, 15.00 PM EST|
|How to watch||Paramount+|
Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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