This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Liverpool may feel unfortunate to have slumped to a defeat against Napoli, but it could have been avoided if Jurgen Klopp was willing to change things up earlier.
Napoli proved a strong test throughout for the Reds but were neither side had control of the game for lengthy periods, and it was a match calling for one player to take control.
Other than Adrian’s superb save from a Dries Mertens volley, Klopp’s side kept a lid on a strong Napoli attack which had scored nine goals in three games, so could have won the game with more invention in attack.
However, the German didn’t act until it was too late, choosing to bring on Xherdan Shaqiri in the 87th minute when the home side already had the lead.
When you consider Klopp has recently praised the winger, it seems an odd call to make, and if he had been brought on earlier he perhaps could have made a significant impact, and increased his team’s chances of winning.
As is often the case in European away fixtures, Liverpool struggled to produce shots on target, and their lack of creativity meant they were too easy to subdue.
Shaqiri could have changed that.
James Milner and Mo Salah, two players he could have replaced, both underperformed. Between them they made only one key pass and had pass success rates of 78% and 77% respectively, whilst the Egyptian found the target with just one of his five shots.
By comparison, Shaqiri’s pass accuracy of 88% this term shows he would have perhaps been more reliable in retaining possession, and that would have allowed attacking moves to build and for the visitors to have maintained their pressure.
Furthermore, against a Napoli side which defended well and sought to limit the space in and around the final third, a player capable of a moment of magic was needed, and the Swiss man could have provided that.
Watch Liverpool Live Streams With StreamFootball.tv Below
Of his 21 goals since arriving in England, 11 have been from outside the box, and when he was a regular starter at Stoke he produced an average of 2.1, 2, and 1.9 key passes in each of his three seasons.
Klopp’s cautious thinking was understandable considering a point from the San Paolo would have been a good result, but he should learn a lesson from his hesitancy on Tuesday and use Shaqiri more readily.