Reds go wild in Champions League opener (video)

Napoli vs Liverpool recap: The Reds conceded early and often, as they were beaten 4-1 in their UEFA Champions League group stage opener in Napoli on Wednesday.

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Consistent errors in midfield and defense allowed Napoli to win possession far too high up the pitch, and far too often, which left Liverpool’s creaking defense under frequent pressure. Only now, after years of scrambling by the skin of their teeth, Liverpool’s defense can no longer cope (more on that in a moment).

Napoli got goals from Piotr Zielinski (5th minute – penalty), Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa (31st), Giovanni Simeone (44th) and Zielinski again (47th), before Luis Diaz grabbed Liverpool’s consolation goal at the 49th.

Next up for Liverpool in the Champions League will be Ajax’s visit to the Anfield nest on Tuesday, September 13.

What we learned from Napoli vs Liverpool

Jurgen Klopp has a problem the size of Virgil van Dijk

…and that’s Virgil van Dijk. Since signing Van Dijk in January 2017, Liverpool have always been as good as Van Dijk in any given season. Signed for $100m, he became the best defender in the Premier League, and then the world, quite quickly. In his first two and a half seasons, Liverpool won the PL, won the Champions League and also finished second in Europe. Then he tore his anterior cruciate ligament, missed 33 games and Liverpool had to scratch and scratch their way to 4th place. Van Dijk quickly reverted to the full version of his old self and Liverpool lost the title by a measly point. And now 2022-23 is turning into a nightmare for the Dutchman, now 31 and showing the signs of rapid decline you would expect of someone his age.

Something has to give. Either Van Dijk have to step out of the squad against the PL and UCL elites or Liverpool have to strike a very different balance between freedom of attack/pressure and defensive solidity. He is no longer the human rubber that can save Liverpool from two, three or four massive threats every game. Incredible blocks and sliding tackles turned into more puffs and shots than Liverpool’s margin of error can bear.

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How to watch Napoli vs Liverpool live stream and start time

Date: Wednesday, September 7
Kick-off time: 3 p.m. ET
Online: Live updates via
How to watch: TUDN, Paramount+

Key scenarios

Liverpool are hit by their Merseyside derby draw at Everton on Saturday and it is their worst start to the Premier League season under Jurgen Klopp. The Reds have taken just nine points from a possible 18 so far and have lacked energy and simply don’t look the same. The Champions League always seems to get the most out of it, as Liverpool have reached the final in three of the last six seasons, winning the competition once. But they have lost twice and drawn in their four Champions League meetings with Napoli (2018-19 and 2019-20 group stages) and lost in their previous two trips to Napoli without scoring a goal.

The truth about Naples

Spaletti’s side have started the Serie A season in decent form considering all the changes over the summer as they sit second in the table with three wins and two draws in their first five matches. Losing Koulibaly, Insigne and Mertens was particularly difficult as this trio were part of the furniture and had become legendary figures at the Italian club. New stars are emerging however as Georgian winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen have both been in fine form at the start of the season. Kim min-Jae, Koulibaly’s replacement, has already scored twice in Serie A and looks like a very good signing in central defence. Mexico’s Hirving Lozano trained ahead of the game after earning their win against Lazio following a bad head collision. Osimhen nursed a hit but should be good to go.

Liverpool squad news, injuries, line-up options

Jurgen Klopp still has to deal with plenty of injuries but at least Thiago Alcanatara is back in training which is a huge boost. Captain Jordan Henderson is now injured, joining fellow central midfielders Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita on the sidelines. Fabio Carvalho treats a dead leg after the draw at Everton, while Caoimhin Kelleher, Calvin Ramsey and Ibrahima Konate remain out. All of this means Liverpool will likely line up with James Milner, Harvey Elliott and Fabinho in midfield.

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