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Napoli vs Liverpool 0-0, 2010-11 Europa League: Remembering the infamous line-up that started in Naples

SSC Napoli v Liverpool - UEFA Europa League
SSC Napoli v Liverpool - UEFA Europa League
This infamous lineup will go down into history books
This infamous lineup will go down into history books

Liverpool will begin their 2022-23 UEFA Champions League campaign against Napoli at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium on Wednesday night (7 September) in a bid to win their seventh European crown.

Back in #UCL action tomorrow 🙌We'll be bringing you live training ahead of the trip to Napoli from 11:45 BST 💻 https://t.co/yHfpRyQvWR

Jurgen Klopp’s men have had a slow start to the Premier League campaign, sitting seventh in the table whilst winning just two out of their opening six matches. Napoli, on the other hand, have enjoyed an unbeaten start to the campaign, sitting in second position in the Serie A table after five games.

Considering the success that the Reds have enjoyed in the last few seasons, there is a sense of disgruntlement amongst the supporters due to their sluggish start to the season. After narrowly missing out on a historic quadruple last campaign, Liverpool were expected to bolster their midfield this summer.

They were unable to add a new midfielder (despite Arthur’s late arrival) and had a downbeat start to the season. The supporters felt a chance was missed to close the gap with Manchester City.

However, it was only a few seasons ago that qualifying for the Champions League looked like a distant dream. Before Klopp’s arrival in 2015, Liverpool had qualified for the Champions League only once in the previous six seasons. In the six seasons since, the Reds have made it to three Champions Leagues and one Europa League final, building a world-class team in the process.

Liverpool's infamous 2010-11 Europa League line-up

Liverpool v Everton at Goodison Park in 2010
Liverpool v Everton at Goodison Park in 2010

In the backdrop to that game, Liverpool endured a horrific start to the campaign under the management of Roy Hodgson, who replaced Rafa Benitez after six years in charge. An injury-ravaged Liverpool side traveled to Goodison Park before facing Napoli away. The Reds lost the Merseyside derby 2-0, leaving them perilously in 19th position, with just a solitary victory in the league from their opening eight games.

The Reds had the following line-up against their upcoming opponents Napoli in a Europa League group stage tie –

Pepe Reina, Paul Konchesky, Jamie Carragher, Martin Kelly, Martin Skrtel, Jay Spearing, Christian Poulsen, Jonjo Shelvey, Milan Jovanovic, Ryan Babel, David N'Gog.

Even the most ardent of Liverpool supporters would struggle to recall any of those starters (barring Reina & Carragher) from Naples twelve years ago.

The Reds went into the game as underdogs against a side containing the likes of Edinson Cavani, Ezequiel Lavezzi & Marek Hamsik. The traveling supporters must have feared the worst when the line-up was revealed.

The game in Naples was a drab affair, ending in a 0-0 stalemate, although both Ryan Babel and Marek Hamsik had glorious opportunities to win the game for their respective sides. Hamsik saw his scuffed effort cleared off the line by the much-maligned Paul Konchesky. Babel missed a glorious chance when his strike was saved with only the keeper to beat.

The fans were frustrated with Hodgson’s playing style – an unimaginative attacking ploy, coupled with an overtly defensive strategy. It resembled a side fighting against relegation rather than a side pushing for Champions League places.

Injury-hit campaigns for star player Fernando Torres and club captain Steven Gerrard coincided with a poor recruitment strategy. The Reds signed Joe Cole, who was past his prime, and average players like Konchesky and Poulsen meant that Hodgson-Liverpool's marriage was never likely to end well.

A special strike from Stevie when we visited Goodison Park in 2001 🎯 #EVELIV https://t.co/DBHC4s8V8H

Supporters today expect a free-flowing style of football and a recruitment strategy to fit a dynamic style of football. Luckily, the Reds have been pretty exceptional in both these aspects in the past six years. There is no doubt that the club should spend more to keep the side evolving. However, there’s an unerring belief that Jurgen Klopp can bring out the best with whatever resources are available to him.

While the 0-0 draw 12 years ago may seem unremarkable, the infamous line-up will always be remembered by avid Liverpool supporters. It is a stark reminder of where they were just a decade ago, before all the successes that they have witnessed under Jurgen Klopp's tutelage in recent times.

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Edited by Shardul Sant
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