Liverpool took all three points against Napoli with late goals from Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez, but were unable to snatch top spot in their group. Express Sport takes a look at four things learnt from thee final Champions League group match.
Champions League job done
It may not have been pretty against Napoli in either match, but Liverpool can say goodbye to the group stage now and look forward to the knockout phase. Many fans will remember the 18/19 Champions League campaign started in disappointment as they lost three matches and still progresses before going on to win the entire tournament.
The group stage can often trip up many great teams – as has been proven this year with the likes of Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus all unable to qualify for the knockout phase. There’s now three months until the last-16 matches take place, in which time Klopp can try and reset his side in the hope of better performances after the World Cup.
Finishing second means that job will be harder in Europe, but they’ve proven in the past it can be used to their advantage. And Liverpool’s Champions League record in the past five years will mean not many will want to face them in the next round.
Klopp’s error not resting Salah
Liverpool tried to downplay talk of the Napoli game being a dead rubber but beating Napoli by four goals was always going to be a tall order, even at Anfield. It would have been the perfect chance to give Mohamed Salah a rest ahead of a far more important fixture against Tottenham this weekend.
The game against Rangers last month was the only game Salah was taken out of the starting line-up and he ended up scoring a hat-trick from the bench. Just a few days after the game, Salah scored the winner in a pulsating match at home to Manchester City.
It’s likely to be a similar contest on Sunday against Antonio Conte’s Tottenham side with both teams in need of their best players stepping up. And having a well-rested Salah available would have been the ideal preparation.
More often than not, Liverpool’s midfield looks far more superior when Thiago is fit and firing. While he doesn’t chip in with many goals or assists, he is often the spark to start things off and was everywhere for the Reds in the opening 45 minutes.
The midfield battle will be key against Tottenham at the weekend and Thiago has to be one of the first names on the teamsheet. The only issue for Thiago has been his fitness as he’s very rarely started two games in the same week.
But with just three games remaining until the season breaks up for the World Cup, Thiago could play a key role in helping build up some momentum.
Tottenham team selection
With injuries to both Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota, Klopp is restricted to what he can do in making major changes for Sunday’s match with Tottenham. Andy Robertson will come in for Kostas Tsimikas at left-back while Darwin Nunez will be expected to start up front.
Midfield remains the problem area for the Liverpool boss but Jordan Henderson will be expected to return. Naby Keita also appears close to a return and could be in contention while Curtis Jones is favoured by Klopp.
But the Liverpool boss will need to get his side in order for a tough challenge against Antonio Conte’s side.