‘Earthquake Style’: Spalletti’s Napoli Serve Liverpool Reality Check On A Memorable Night In Naples

‘Earthquake Style’: Spalletti’s Napoli Serve Liverpool Reality Check On A Memorable Night In Naples

  • UCL
  • September 8, 2022
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“A quiet—Earthquake Style—
Too subtle to suspect
By natures this side Naples
The North cannot detect

Wrote Emily Dickinson about the enchanting city that is Naples. The city has seen its share of history through the years gone by, and this night was no different. “A quiet – Earthquake style”, to say the least.

The night — a hot summer’s night in September in the fabled Italian city. The setting — the Diego Armando Maradona stadium. The game — Napoli welcoming last season’s UEFA Champions League finalists Liverpool in the group stage of the 2022/23 Champions League.

Perhaps Maradona’s over the top and/or drug-induced celebrations would have been fitting for this night; one that will live on in the memories of Napoli fans for years to come.

The Reds came into the game looking to bounce back from a stalemate against Everton in the Merseyside derby, with a squad that is essentially the same squad that finished last season’s Champions League final as runners-up, minus the mercurial Sadio Mane.

Mane saw his new employers Bayern get the better of a resurgent Inter, also playing in Italy as the rest of his former teammates from Liverpool, and perhaps, had some words to exchange with them.

And if Mane is perhaps too humble for a bit of banter with his ex-colleagues, perhaps the scoreline hits Klopp hard in his face— a reality check for the German boss, who is slowly running out of solutions.

The truth is Liverpool look like a shadow of the team that challenged Real Madrid in May for the coveted trophy with the ‘big ears’.

And it’s certain that ‘big ears’ were raised as Zambo Anguissa’s roulette in the center of the pitch in the build-up to Napoli’s third goal on the night, got all the Napolitani in a unanimous cheer; ‘Bellissimo!’.

Anguissa bossed the midfield on the night, putting in, perhaps, his best performance for his club and announcing his arrival to the grand European stage, capping off the memorable night with a goal after a slick one-two with Zielinski, to make it 2-0.

Victor Osimhen had his penalty saved by Alisson, hit the post, and Virgil Van Dijk cleared off the line to deny the young and talented Khvicha Kvaratskhelia; in truth, it could have been much worse for Liverpool.

Osimhen tormented Van Dijk exposing him for strength, pace, and power. For those who rate the defender as the best in the world, Osimhen, in serious Drogba fashion, until he departed the pitch injured, gave the Dutchman a proper bashing. It’s certain that Jamie Carragher, in his punditry now, has nightmares of Drogba from back in the day, and tonight Osimhen gave Van Dijk cause for a few nightmares.

While Chelsea Twitter quickly began to rush in with tweets to tout and urge the club to sign Osimhen, citing him a ‘proper’ player, just hours after the sacking of Thomas Tuchel. It perhaps must be said, that both German bosses find themselves at a crossroads.

Tuchel is out, that we know. But Klopp also is biting the dust looking for answers. He tirelessly fields what he thinks is his best team, but it’s been a few years if not several seasons since Liverpool’s squad had a complete re-work.

Klopp picked his best available eleven, but even as Milner laboured in midfield and Trent Alexander-Arnold tried to conjure up a comeback, with Salah looking like a ghost of the player we’ve been accustomed to watching over the seasons, the truth is it easily could have been a 7-1 rout if not for the missed chances. It ended 4-1 but 7-1 wouldn’t flatter Napoli because that’s what Spalletti’s side could have easily finished the scoreline with on the night.

Change in football is inevitable. Boehly has moved quickly to usher Tuchel out of the club, while Klopp is not remotely close to a sack, he is slowly and steadily running out of excuses & ideas.

The signings of Darwin Nunez and for all of Luis Diaz’s dribbling and goalscoring prowess(and he did get a goal) Liverpool have, in essence, the same spine to their team that is rapidly aging. Some positives include Harvey Elliot’s performance and Thiago returning for the Reds, but it’s slowly turning into a crisis in the Red half of Merseyside.

The 9-0 battering of Bournemouth aside, Liverpool, as it stands, are pretty close to seeing this season slip into a downward spiral. This was a harsh reality check for Liverpool and Klopp, and much like their English compatriots, Leicester City, who are bottom the table in the Premier League, the Reds find themselves with a squad that hasn’t been built upon enough over the seasons.

“We have to re-invent ourselves” urged Klopp after the resounding defeat, as he reflected on a game where Napoli outplayed them all over the pitch and man for man.

“We have to try to find a set-up to be much better in pretty much everything. We were not working as a team. It is nothing to do with personal stuff, or pointing at each other. In football, the solution to problems is always football. But we don’t play good enough, it’s clear. That’s obvious. It’s tough, but we still have a job to do. It is my responsibility, and that’s my job to find it out. We have to reset and go,” suggested Klopp, while keeping an eye on Wolves coming up next.

Liverpool’s woes could continue if there aren’t some serious changes made by Klopp but take nothing away from Spalletti’s Napoli. With some slick football and robust defending and hitting Liverpool on transitions for fun, the Italian outfit have much to celebrate.

It was a historic win for the Naples club and all their ardent fans as the game drew to a close. Spalletti’s men will look to qualify from the group and head into the knockout stages after this emphatic result in a group that also has Ajax and Rangers. Liverpool are still favourites to win the group, if Klopp can galvanize the team to perform as expected.

But for the moment, although the quiet earthquake was in Naples, it’s slowly echoing in the far reaches of Liverpool.

Also read: UCL Predictions: Groups A and B

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