Jurgen Klopp has called on Liverpool to produce “something special” when they face Napoli in a do-or-die Champions League showdown today.
Klopp’s side must beat Napoli at Anfield to stand any chance of progressing from their group into the knockout stages.
Paris Saint-Germain are also in the Group. And they face Red Star Belgrade, away. Napoli lead the Group C with nine points, followed by PSG with eight points and Liverpool with six points.
According to permutations for the group made by UEFA.com, Napoli will be through if they draw, or if they lose and Paris are also beaten.
Paris will be through if they win, and are also certain to advance if Liverpool do not gain victory.
Liverpool must win to have any chance of progress. If Paris win, Liverpool must win 1-0 or by two goals or more. If Liverpool, Paris and Napoli all finish on nine points, the English club would finish first on the three-way head-to-head, with second place depending on the scoreline at Anfield.
Crvena zvezda will finish third if they win and Liverpool lose (Liverpool have a superior head-to-head goal difference).
Liverpool have a long history of success on big European nights on their own ground, dating all the way back to the memorable European Cup quarter-final win over Saint-Etienne in 1977 that kick-started their continental reign.
That gives Klopp hope as he prepares to face a major test against Napoli, who are second in Serie A and unbeaten in Champions League Group C, having defeated Liverpool 1-0 when they met in Italy in October.
The Italian side have continued to look strong despite losing manager Maurizio Sarri to Chelsea in July, with Carlo Ancelotti taking over and Klopp knows Liverpool will have to produce one of their most dominant displays to advance.
“We really need to make sure we are ready for Napoli. It’s difficult to come in after a successful coach such as Sarri and make changes but they are so good,” Klopp told reporters on Monday.
“We know the result we need, and it’s difficult because Napoli are dangerous on the counter attack and good defending.
“They are a typical Italian team. But if something special is possible, then it’s here, and we will try that.”
Liverpool go into Tuesday’s match in good spirits, having gone top of the Premier League on Saturday when they won 4-0 at Bournemouth and previous leaders Manchester City lost 2-0 at Chelsea.
Klopp, however, is certain that his players will not get carried away, either in the Premier League or in Europe, given the defeats they have suffered in their group this season.
“We will not get carried away. We know how difficult it is,” he said.
“We are not the most experienced side but we know our way and which way we will go all the time.
“The league is not important at the moment because today we play Napoli. We were confident before the away games in Napoli and Belgrade, and that didn’t help.”