Super Eagles striker Victor Osimhen will play his first UEFA Champions League game for Napoli when they square off against Liverpool at the Stadio Diego Amando Maradona on Wednesday. And he would be looking to start on a high.
The Nigerian striker is no stranger to UEFA’s top competition, neither is he new to English opposition. During his time in Lille, Osimhen scored against Chelsea in the group stages.
It is two years since he scored that goal, and he would look to replicate that feat. However, it would not be an easy task as they are up against a side that has six titles to their name.
It has been a tale of contrasting fortunes for both teams this season. While Napoli have enjoyed a decent start to the season, Liverpool are struggling to win games.
Napoli’s victory at Lazio over the weekend put them back on track after successive draws against Fiorentina and Lecce in the Serie A.
Georgian star khvicha Kvaratskhelia has been a revelation since he joined the club, scoring four goals in five games.
However, it is a contrasting situation for the Merseysiders, as they have managed just two wins from their first six Premier League games.
Also, talisman Mohammed Salah has not looked as deadly as usual. He has scored two goals in Liverpool’s first six games.
While Napoli look like strong contenders for the Scudetto this season, the same can not be said for their visitors. The Premier League seems to be slipping away from Liverpool, as they sit six points away from leaders Arsenal, and they have not also inspired confidence with their displays this season.
The two teams have met six times in Europe and can’t be separated with two wins apiece and two draws.
However, Napoli were victorious when they met in the Champions League group stage three years ago, winning 2-0 in Italy and then drawing 1-1 at Anfield.
Napoli have good numbers. They would be missing Hirving Lozano who sustained an injury after clashing with Adam Marusic in their 2-1 win at Lazio.
In His place, Matteo Politano would look to put in a good performance. Also, Diego Demme is still recovering from a broken foot. Asides from the two, there are no other injury worries.
It seemed like Osimhen sustained a knock over the weekend, but he should be fit enough for the fixture.
For Liverpool, manager Jurgen Klopp is sweating over the fitness of a lot of players.
Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jordan Henderson, and Fabio Carvalho have been ruled out of the fixture due to injury.
Thiago Alcantara could make the trip to Naples but he is yet to be passed fit for the game.
As such, Liverpool are extremely short-staffed in the middle of the park.
The only senior team midfielders that would be available to Klopp are Fabinho, James Milner, Arthur, and Elliot.
It is expected that Napoli boss Luciano Spalletti should repeat the team he fielded against Lazio, except for Politano who would replace the injured Lozano.
Meret; Di Lorenzo, Amir Rrahmani, Kim Min-Jae, Mario Rui; Stanislav Lobotka, Zambo Anguissa, Piotr Zielinski; Kvaratskhelia, Politano, Osimhen.
For Liverpool, it is expected that Klopp would make three changes to the side that drew 0-0 at Liverpool on Saturday. Joel Matip would replace Joe Gomez, Andrew Robertson for Tsimikas, and Arthur would replace the injured Carvalho.
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Van Dijk, Matip; Fabinho, Elliot, Arthur; Diaz, Nunez, Salah.
Liverpool have been off-color in the Premier League, and Napoli would not go easy on them.
Trent Alexander-Arnold has not exactly covered himself in glory, as he has been a shadow of himself.
Kvaratskhelia would be looking to wreak havoc against the Reds with his pace and trickery.
Nonetheless, the kind of danger that Liverpool pose can not be overemphasized. Salah, Diaz, and Nunez are just time bombs waiting to explode.
With the quality and weaknesses of both sides, a 2-2 draw should suffice.