Assessing Liverpool’s Champions League Opponents, in a Mirror

Assessing Liverpool’s Champions League Opponents, in a Mirror
September 16, 2019 Andrew Beasley

 

The Champions of Europe have a title to defend. No team had retained the continental title for 26 years until Real Madrid won three in a row between 2016 and 2018 (as if you need reminding). Liverpool are deemed the third most likely team to win the 2019/20 Champions League according to the bookmakers, and are red hot favourites – with a 60% chance – to top Group E.

And while it would be surprising if the Reds didn’t make it to the knockout phase, they should face some interesting challenges along the way. Let’s take a look at some 2018/19 stats for their forthcoming opponents.

Napoli – 33% chance of topping the group

Liverpool’s only realistic rivals for the title of Group E winners need little introduction, as the Reds faced them at this stage in last season’s competition. But for a last minute save by Alisson Becker in the final group game, the Neapolitans would’ve consigned Liverpool to the Europa League.

On paper, they didn’t do as well in Serie A last season as they had the year before. Carlo Ancelotti’s side finished with 79 points, when they racked up 91 in 2017/18 (under Maurizio Sarri) to record the highest points tally amassed by a league runner up in Italy (a pain we are now all too familiar with).

But on spreadsheets, they did remarkably well. Napoli topped the Italian tables for both shot and shots on target ratio, but also the expected goals results league too.

Napoli have bolstered their squad over the summer too. With a net spend of £57.5m, only the two clubs from Milan saw a larger net outlay in Italy. The two main signings money-wise were Hirving ‘Chucky’ Lozano from PSV (for £34.4m) and Kostas Manolas from Roma (£32.2m).

The rest of this article is for Subscribers only.