Napoli 2-0 Liverpool: ‘Slap in the face’ will do Reds some good – Mark Lawrenson

21/11/2019

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From Mark Lawrenson
Pundit and former Liverpool defender
Liverpool’s late defeat by Napoli has been a true smack in the face, but sometimes that’s not the worst thing that could happen to a team.
The unwanted of jurgen Klopp had forgotten what it felt like to lose and have coasted through their five Premier League matches this season.
So, this was a reminder of what happens in top-level football if you don’t take your opportunities and lose your focus maybe not or if you’re winners of Europe.
From the seasons I played Liverpool when we started that our defence of the European Cup – 1984-85 and 1981-82 – that I had been thinking’crikey, we’re here to be shot ‘ maybe not’ah, we’re the best group in Europe’.
Yes, we’ve become the very best the May, but that means nothing in September.
That is something Klopp’s side have to deal with, plus they have to keep churning the outcomes out. It is a long road back to this season’s closing in Istanbul.
Tuesday’s defeat was the sort of lesson every team requires periodically about the level you want to stay at to keep winning matters, and it’s far from a disaster that it has come in Liverpool’s very first match of the Champions League campaign, contrary to the best team they’ll confront in Group E.
The Reds did not work at the San Paolo Stadium at their customary standard in defence or attack, but I still don’t believe this outcome will affect their advancement.
After dropping all three of their off group games, last year they made it into the last 16 by the skin of their teeth.
But this was when they’d Napoli in addition to Paris-St Germain in their group. This time around, another opposition is just not the exact same calibre and I don’t see Liverpool finishing under Salzburg or Genk.
That’s the reason I see Tuesday’s defeat as a, since I am certain they will still qualify.
A 0-0 draw would have been a great outcome for Liverpool, and they have been much less than 10 minutes apart from getting it – until things unravelled in the trunk.
I’m far from convinced it had been a penalty for Napoli’s primary target – the first time that I saw it, I believed it was the correct choice, but the further I see it the less I agree it ought to have been granted.
Nevertheless, it was a lazy challenge by Andy Robertson on Jose Callejon, that gave the referee the chance to award a spot-kick at the first place.
It killed the game completely when Napoli scored their second goal in injury time, and Virgil van Dijk was responsible for this.
When they’re in possession in the back to concede from a mistake like that is very unlike Liverpool generally, and Van Dijk notably.
Two mistakes that are late cost Klopp’s negative, but I do think they were too poor at the trunk.
They played with a talented Napoli team with tons of objective, who pressured Adrian into creating some great saves – particularly his halt by Dries Mertens after half-time.
However, it isn’t as when Liverpool fought for 90 minutes, I am pretty sure he’ll think the biggest problem on the night when Klopp analyses it was at the end of the pitch.
Liverpool saved their lacklustre attacking operation of the season.
Part of this was down to the opposition; Napoli were rather powerful at the back, with Kalidou Koulibaly.
However, Liverpool must have done better when they came ahead, and it was irritating to observe the final ball go awry often when they did have opportunities.
Mohamed Salah forced one brilliant save from Alex Meret but, when they got to some rather promising positions overall, they were just not clinical enough.
If that occurs, you are going to be punished when you’re currently confronting a group as great – which is exactly what happened.
Mark Lawrenson was talking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.
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