Liverpool Have Shown That They Cannot Do Without Sadio Mane As Napoli Thrashed Them 4:1 In Champions League

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Liverpool were shaken by Napoli’s strong performance in the Champions League group stage on Wednesday, falling 4-1.

Liverpool Have Shown That They Cannot Do Without Sadio Mane As Napoli Thrash Them 4:1 In Champions League

The 2021โ€“22 Champions League runner-ups have struggled to maintain their usual dominant form in domestic football this year, and those struggles continued in Naples, where they found themselves 3-0 down at the break. Luis Diaz’s goal in the 49th minute was merely a consolation for Jurgen Klopp’s team on a miserable evening.

In Naples, Liverpool was a shadow of their usual self as they lost 4-1 in a game that should have been a slim win for either side or a draw. It was one of their most humiliating defeats ever in Europe.

Aside from another Luis Diaz spectacle when the game was already over, Liverpool lacked punch up front and had poor defensive play. After seven years of Klopp taking delight in creating a team that is a “nightmare” to play against, Napoli easily dismissed them.

According to the UEFA report into the final loss, Liverpool had peaked after 63 games. Sadly, after just seven fixtures in this season, they might come to the same conclusion. The championship was only 102 days ago. The dramatic disintegration already makes it seem like it was in a different Liverpool era.

It would be an understatement to suggest Liverpool appeared disorganized, disheveled, and – in the worst circumstances – indifferent, particularly during the chaotic first half at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

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The team does not appear to be in sufficient condition; they appear to be in pre-season, which is the most damning criticism.

No Liverpool team has been so exposed during the Klopp era. Napoli’s dominance would have been adequately demonstrated with six goals before halftime.

They missed a penalty, hit the post, and had a shot pushed off the line by the time they scored their fourth goal shortly after halftime.

Where does one start when addressing the plethora of structural and player faults in the disastrous first half? 42 seconds is a decent starting point.

At that point, Napoli striker Victor Osimhen evaded Alisson Becker and appeared to dodge a Liverpool offside trap before shooting narrowly wide of the post.

Liverpool Have Shown That They Cannot Do Without Sadio Mane As Napoli Thrash Them 4:1 In Champions League

The caution went unheeded as Napoli took the lead once more after four minutes, and Liverpool adopted the peculiar tactic of being pedestrian with the ball and moving slowly while pathetically attempting to recover it.

Piotr Zielinski, who was previously a target for Liverpool, happily capitalized on the situation and picked a location in Alisson’s bottom corner where only James Milner’s hand could stop him from scoring. Zielinski duly complied by imposing the subsequent punishment.

Every time Liverpool made a mistake in the opponents’ half, a clear opportunity was created at the opposite end, leaving Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and Virgil Van Dijk more exposed than ever during this alarming run of form.

Klopp received some relief when Van Dijk stopped Osimhen’s subsequent attack, and a VAR review that was conducted in the sixteenth minute resulted in a second penalty.

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Oddly, Zielinski moved out of the way to allow Osimhen to strike Alisson gently. No big deal. More defensive inanity followed from Liverpool, as Gomez once more gave the ball away on the halfway line, setting off Kvaratskhelia.

Once Zielinski and Zambo Anguisse finished a one-two, Liverpool’s defenders might as well have cheered while watching. Alisson was then outmuscled at his near post.

Any plans Klopp may have had to reorganize at halftime were dashed by the third goal, which was scored by Giovanni Simeone, son of Diego Simeone, who was a replacement. Gomez was once again at fault.

Joel Matip had to take over for Gomez at halftime. It was unexpected that he was the only one with a hook. Although Diaz, the only Liverpool outfield player to emerge with any credit, at least provided a prompt reaction, cutting in from the left and finding the bottom right corner, Zielinski’s second goal two minutes after halftime assured it would not make a difference.

For the first time during his leadership, Klopp appeared powerless, wondering what had happened to a team that was once so impossible to defeat while standing on the sidelines with his arms behind his back.

Joel Matip had to take over for Gomez at halftime. It was unexpected that he was the only one with a hook. Although Diaz, the only Liverpool outfield player to emerge with any credit, at least provided a prompt reaction, cutting in from the left and finding the bottom right corner, Zielinski’s second goal two minutes after halftime assured it would not make a difference.

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For the first time during his leadership, Klopp appeared powerless, wondering what had happened to a team that was once so impossible to defeat while standing on the sidelines with his arms behind his back.

Liverpool Have Shown That They Cannot Do Without Sadio Mane As Napoli Thrash Them 4:1 In Champions League

“It is really tough to take, it’s not that difficult to explain when you watched the game. OK first of all Napoli played a really good game, we didn’t, that is the first explanation for the defeat,” Klopp said.

“They scored one penalty and missed another but the next two goals we served on a plate and we should defend better. We were not compact defensively or offensively. Until Thiago [Alcantara] entered the pitch I cannot remember one counter-pressing situation, we were too wide.”

Europe’s worst losses for Liverpool

Liverpool are understanding of sporadic transitional phases, particularly those brought on by the loss of important players to injury or transfer.

But the absence of a midfielder cannot be the only reason for a night like this. Since Liverpool won the Community Shield, something has gone horribly and unexpectedly wrong.

The last time Klopp seen his team fall apart like this, there were mitigating factors like a dearth of center backs and supporters.

This feels more serious and presents a test to his capacity to isolate the underlying causes of a problem that has caused his side to rapidly lose ground in recent weeks.

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