Liverpool vs Napoli
Our Liverpool correspondent David Lynch says tonight’s game could also be crucial to Liverpool’s Premier League title hopes…
Ask any Reds supporter which they would rather win this season, and the Premier League would likely come a long way ahead of a sixth Champions League title.
Yet the two are intrinsically linked until the knockout stages at least, largely because the threat of Europa League qualification still hangs over Klopp’s men.
Unless Red Star Belgrade pull off an unexpected win over Paris Saint-Germain on the same night, Liverpool will end up in Europe’s second-tier competition if they cannot get past Napoli.
And that could have dire consequences for their hopes of clinching a first league title since 1990.
On face value at least, the Thursday-Sunday routine enforced by the Europa League has always seemed to take a bigger physical toll on players than the Champions League’s Tuesday or Wednesday fixtures.
And, whether completely true or not, Liverpool won’t wish to test the theory out having finally hit the front in a remarkably tight Premier League title race last weekend.
Even in the short term, the blow to confidence dealt by an early Champions League exit would be the worst possible preparation for Sunday’s crucial home meeting with a Manchester United side who would love to derail their hosts’ fine start.
But it is the thought that the three points available against Jose Mourinho’s men could be devalued that makes Tuesday’s fixture even bigger than it might usually be.