THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE group-stage concludes this midweek and on Tuesday we see Liverpool going head-to-head with Napoli for a place in the knockout stages Daniel McCulloch (@DMcCulloch1984) shares his betting thoughts.
Liverpool v Napoli | Tuesday 11th December 2018, 20:00 | BT Sport
It’s hard not to think back to Liverpool’s 3-1 victory over Olympiakos 14 years ago when considering how this game will transpire. Steven Gerrard late heroics that night inspired Liverpool through to the knockout stages of a competition they would eventually win and you expect that similar actions may be required if they are to make it through to the Last 16 this season.
Liverpool started this group in fine style, beating PSG 3-2 and they were probably worthy of a greater margin of victory. Their performances since then, however, have been pretty poor. Their sole victory came at home to the groups whipping boys Red Star Belgrade, but incredibly they suffered a 2-0 loss in the Serbian capital.
Away to fellow powerhouses, Napoli and PSG, the Reds have lost both games by a single goal but in truth both scorelines flattered the Merseyside club. They have had just one shot on-target across those two matches – a penalty, converted by James Milner.
This game is at Anfield and there is no doubt that Jurgen Klopp’s men are a different proposition in front of their raucous fans. However, given how much superior the Italian side looked in Naples, coupled with Napoli’s excellent performances in both games against PSG, I find it tough to see why Liverpool are as short as 3/5 in places.
Napoli’s two games against PSG both saw score draws – 2-2 in Paris and 1-1 in Naples. PSG needed in injury to avoid defeat at home and Napoli showed attacking intent throughout both encounters, managing 36 shots – with 10 on target – across the two matches.
Indeed, despite the fact that a 0-0 draw will see them through to the knockout stages, I simply do not see them setting up defensively at Anfield. To date this season, they have scored 32 goals in 15 league games, including away matches to Lazio and Juventus. Overall, they’ve scored in 13 games in Serie A this season and in a further four in their five Champions League encounters.
Liverpool’s league record suggests that they are far more solid defensively than they were last season but without going in to too many details, conceding just six goals from 16 games really does flatter them.
Additionally, the injured Joe Gomez played in most of those matches and I simply do not see them being able to keep a clean sheet against an attack of Napoli’s class, especially when they need to be on the front foot.
There are several bets that looked appetising but in the end I opted for Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score – that is available at 20/23 with Boylesports.
Furthermore, 11/1 with SkyBet looks too big on a repeat of that famous night against Olympiakos. It might seem skinny to some but given that it a 3-1 scoreline will be enough to send Liverpool through, I shall certainly be taking it.
Liverpool v Napoli – Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score (20/23 Boylesports)
Liverpool v Napoli – Liverpool to win 3-1 (11/1 SkyBet)