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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Liverpool could take a share of the spoils at Napoli

Carlo Ancelotti looks set to insist on cautious approach

A draw at Chelsea on Saturday ended Liverpool's 100 per cent start to the season
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Champions League
BT Sport 3, 8pm Wednesday

Liverpool have justified the confidence punters showed in them at the start of the season with some outstanding performances and results. But their 100 per cent record in the Premier League disappeared with a 1-1 draw at Chelsea on Saturday and they may share the spoils again when they face Napoli at Stadio San Paolo.

The Reds go into every match with the intention of winning but Jurgen Klopp will be aware of the value of a point in Naples.

Given their status as third seeds in Group C, Liverpool were always at risk of landing in a tough section and they made the perfect start by beating Paris St-Germain 3-2 at Anfield.

But there are still some major obstacles to overcome, including the clash against Napoli, who are anxious to bounce back from a disappointing 0-0 draw away to Red Star Belgrade on matchday one.

Failing to defeat Red Star has put Napoli under immediate pressure but they have three home games to to come and making the most of those will be key to their hopes of reaching the last 16.

Over the last seven years Napoli have won ten, drawn two and lost three of 15 Champions League home matches.

Against English teams they have won three of four home games but they were defeated 4-2 by Manchester City last November in a pulsating encounter.

The team which faced City has been weakened by the departure of key midfielder Jorginho to Chelsea.

And Napoli have not looked quite the same side in Serie A, winning five and losing two of their opening seven matches.

Carlo Ancelotti's team are second in the league but the gap to leaders Juventus was extended to six points when they lost 3-1 to the Bianconeri in Turin on Saturday.

A repeat of last season's thrilling title race is looking unlikely and Napoli's domestic travails only serve to increase the importance of the Liverpool game.

It would probably suit Liverpool if Napoli played on the front foot, allowing them space to utilise on the counter-attack.

But Ancelotti is acutely aware of Liverpool's strengths and will surely demand a disciplined approach from his players in a game the Italians dare not lose.

Liverpool could be afforded a lot of respect and are likely to have more of the ball, as was the case at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.

In that game Daniel Sturridge rescued them with a moment of sheer brilliance and the 29-year old is doing all he can to put pressure on Liverpool's established front three of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

It might need another moment of magic to decide a close encounter in Naples but the stalemate looks a strong possibility and the draw is worth backing at 11-4.

1pt 11-4 Betfred

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Team news
Amin Younes (Achilles) has been out long-term and Alex Meret (broken arm) and Vlad Chiriches (knee) are also sidelined.

No fresh injuries are reported but Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (knee) and Adam Lallana (groin) are out. Virgil Van Dijk (rib) came through the full match at Chelsea and should continue.

Key stat
Napoli are unbeaten in their last eight home matches.

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Ancellotti is acutely aware of Liverpool's strengths and will surely demand a disciplined approach from his players
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