A really disappointing night in Naples ended with Liverpool succumbing to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli side. But what were the key stats as Liverpool lost control of their Champions League group?
Attack Blunted As Reds Crumble
There are no two ways about it, Napoli found a way to completely keep Liverpool’s front three out of the game. Liverpool had four shots, only one in the second half, none from inside the box and none on target, with an xG of 0.15 their lowest of the Klopp era.
It was also the first time, not just in the Klopp era but since 2012, that Liverpool failed to register a shot on target. It simply wasn’t to be Firmino failing to register a shot or a dribble, and Mané not managing a shot either, despite two successful dribbles and winning four free-kicks.
It was one of those days where absolutely nothing went right for the Reds, with only Andy Robertson creating a chance for a team-mate, and the team failing to complete a cross on eleven attempts. From a statistical point of view, this was just a completely dead rubber attacking performance.
This was, incidentally, only the second time in 19 games that the Reds have failed to score in Europe, with the other occasion coming in their 0-0 draw with Porto last year.
Gulf In Class On The Night
A few numbers from Si Brundish illustrating how outplayed Liverpool were:
They had 29 touches in our box. We had 8 in Theirs
2-0 in Big Chances
5 shots on target to 0
674 passes to 507 yet they still had 23 more ball recoveries than we did
They dragged us round the pitch, chases our asses off, outrun them by 4K…but we were knackered in possession
— SimonBrundish (@SimonBrundish) October 3, 2018
That said, it’s worth noting that even though Napoli were dominant, Liverpool kept them contained for most of the match. It wasn’t until the last ten minutes when Mertens hit the bar and then Insigne’s goal that Napoli created the two big chances that made up the majority of their 1.70 xG, and although Alisson had been tested on a few occasions, Napoli had only managed six shots inside the box.
Moreover, Liverpool were well in the game before the break, with the halftime xG 0.12-0.10 in Napoli’s favour. It was just the case that Napoli’s subs were able to turn the screw and the Reds eventually buckled under pressure.
Defensively, a lot of that was down to Joe Gomez, VVD and Andy Robertson. Robertson made 6/6 tackles, as well as five clearances and one interception, whilst the brilliant Gomez made seven clearances, as well as an interception. VVD adding a blocked shot and two aerial wins to his four clearances and an interception.
Unbeaten Run Gone – Now What?
Liverpool were unbeaten in their first 13 Champions League games under Jürgen Klopp, they’ve now lost three of their last four UCL games, all away from Anfield and two in Italy. It’s a minor concern, with Liverpool also now suffering their second defeat in a week, having won their opening seven games of the season, the Reds are now three without a win – with none of the front three having scored since Southampton – although neither Firmino nor Salah started against Chelsea. That’s still three and a half games where only Sturridge has scored. Far from a disaster, but the Reds certainly need a response against City – to take some momentum into a much needed international break.