Belfast Telegraph

Liverpool used defeat in Napoli last season to ignite Champions League glory, says Henderson

Napoli v Liverpool, Champions League Group E, Stadio San Paolo, Tonight, 8.00pm

On the run: Jordan Henderson (left) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in training
On the run: Jordan Henderson (left) and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in training
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp

By Robert Jones

Skipper Jordan Henderson believes Liverpool have "improved a lot" since last season's defeat to Napoli.

The two teams go head-to-head in the group stages of the Champions League for the second successive campaign.

The Reds were beaten 1-0 at Stadio San Paolo last October, with Lorenzo Insigne scoring a last-minute winner.

Henderson admits that result hurt the Liverpool squad and felt it played a part in them going on to lift the trophy.

He said: "When we came here last year we didn't perform very well at all, I'm sure the manager will tell you that.

"I can remember analysis after that game and I think we improved a lot since that game, and we used that game to improve a lot.

"Hopefully tomorrow night will be a different story, the performance level is much better, and if that's the case then we have a better chance to win, of course.

"It will still be a tough challenge because Napoli are a good side."

When asked if he feels Liverpool are a different proposition for Napoli this term, boss Jurgen Klopp said: "Last year we learned from the first game and we used that experience in the second game (a 1-0 win for Liverpool).

"If you don't defend with all you have you have no chance against Napoli. They are so strong, I really like watching them.

"Am I sure something like that cannot happen again? No, of course not, but the boys give me no signs that I can doubt them. It's still football, we're human beings and things like this can happen.

"We will try to reach the level of last year again, but we want to be as consistent, at least, as last year but play our football of this year.

"Use the skills, use the confidence when it's there, get it back when it's not there.

"Use the momentum when it's there, get it back when it's not there, stuff like this. Stay in the game, fight for everything.

"If there's any improvement, we will judge that at the end of the season."

Rhian Brewster has been included in the Liverpool squad for the game and Henderson believes that the 19-year-old striker deserves the opportunity.

"He had a really good pre-season and has been really strong in training," said the England international. "He gives us another option. We've got a lot of strength in the squad but he's been doing well and he just needs to continue in that way."

• Liverpool will face either Qatari club Al Sadd SC, Hienghene Sport of New Caledonia or Mexico outfit Monterrey in their Club World Cup semi-final in December.

The Reds are guaranteed a passage to the last four of the competition to be held in Qatar by virtue of their triumph in last season's Champions League, and they learned their fate following a draw in Zurich yesterday.

Hosts Al Sadd and Oceania title holders Hienghene Sport face off on December 11 for the right to challenge North American champions Monterrey three days later.

Liverpool await the winners of that clash on December 18 and will contest the final or third-place play-off on December 21.

Liverpool's last foray in the tournament ended with a 1-0 defeat to Sao Paulo in Yokohama, Japan in 2005.

In the other semi-final, the yet to be determined winners of the Copa Libertadores will face either African champions Esperance Sportive de Tunis or whoever is crowned Asian Champions League winners.

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