Champions League Group E will take potentially decisive shape on Wednesday night as leaders Liverpool welcome Napoli to Anfield with just one point separating the sides.

The Serie A outfit are the only team to have defeated the Reds in 90 minutes this season, having prevailed 2-0 in Naples back on matchday one.

But Carlo Ancelotti’s charges tasted defeat on their last visit to L4, going down 1-0 in a similarly high-stakes group-stage clash just under a year ago.

Another home victory against Napoli would ensure progression as group winners for Jürgen Klopp’s side – and we have taken a look at three individual battles that may be pivotal…

Virgil van Dijk v Hirving Lozano

Napoli’s abundance of options up front has allowed Ancelotti to keep opposing coaches guessing this season, sometimes playing two target men up front, sometimes fielding two smaller, more skilful attackers, and sometimes mixing and matching.

However, with neither Lorenzo Insigne nor Arkadiusz Milik fit to board the flight to Liverpool, the most likely solution at Anfield is Hirving Lozano and Dries Mertens up top – the duo that have started three of the four group fixtures to date and scored four of the team’s six tournament goals between them – with Fernando Llorente as an option from the bench.

Lozano, who became Napoli’s record signing last summer, appears to be coming into form just in time for the game. The Mexico international, who struck 17 Eredivisie goals in both of his seasons with PSV Eindhoven, netted a precise low drive from distance in the 1-1 draw with Salzburg three weeks ago and showed all of his predatory instincts to nod in the rebound after Insigne’s shot hit the bar in Saturday night’s 1-1 draw at AC Milan.

The 24-year-old is also a man for the big occasion, scoring Champions League goals against Tottenham Hotspur and Inter Milan last season and the winner against Germany at the 2018 World Cup.

Arguably Lozano’s greatest strength is running at goal with the ball at his feet, but if there’s one defender out there who excels in stopping dribblers in their tracks, it’s reigning Champions League Defender of the Season Virgil van Dijk.

The dominant Dutchman has played every minute of Liverpool’s Champions League campaign this season, but with no clean sheet for he and his defensive colleagues to relish so far, the man that coined the catchphrase ‘I love clean sheets’ last term will be keen to put that right as soon as possible.

Van Dijk recorded a team-high six clearances and 10 possession regains in the Reds’ 2-1 win at home to Genk last time out in the competition.

Trent Alexander-Arnold v Piotr Zielinski

Trent Alexander-Arnold’s outstanding ability on the ball led Reds assistant manager Pepijn Lijnders to label the full-back as ‘a playmaker on the right’ earlier this month.

Only three players delivered more crosses than his 28 during the opening four rounds of Champions League matches this season – and that despite him sitting out the trip to Genk due to illness.

His statistics across the 90 minutes of Liverpool’s 2-1 victory against Genk at Anfield three weeks ago again evidenced Alexander-Arnold’s influence on how Klopp’s European champions attack from multiple areas.

No teammate could better the Scouser’s 160 touches, 128 passes and 91 passes in the opposition half, while only James Milner – deployed on the opposite side of the defence that night – trumped his four key passes.

Alexander-Arnold will hope his all-action style can disturb the visitors’ well-organised rhythm and specifically occupy the threat of the talented Piotr Zielinski by making him work in the other direction.

Zielinski has scored 20 times in just over three years at Napoli and a significant proportion of them fall into the ‘screamer’ category.

Having gained experience in Serie A as a teenager, the Polish international is now moving into his prime years at the age of 25, and has shuttled back and forth between central midfield and the left wing this season depending on Ancelotti’s requirements.

On Saturday at San Siro he partnered chief ball-winner Allan in the middle of the park, but with Fabian Ruiz likely to step back into the side at Anfield, Insigne’s traditional left-wing berth could be beckoning to Zielinski.

Unusually for him, the cultured left-footer is yet to score – screamer or otherwise – so far this season, despite averaging more than two shots a game in the league.

Sadio Mane v Giovanni Di Lorenzo

Sadio Mane already has 12 goals in all competitions this term – just one fewer than he managed in the entirety of his first season at Liverpool – with the latest arriving at Selhurst Park at the weekend, when his prodded shot beat Crystal Palace goalkeeper Vicente Guaita and hit both posts before settling in the net.

Further proof that Liverpool’s No.10 is just as happy scoring scrappy goals as he is sumptuous ones such as his two in the Champions League this term – a clinical run and finish at home to Salzburg and a delightful chip at Genk.

“Even when I came he was amazing, but maybe did not have as much composure as he does now in front of goal,” explained teammate Andy Robertson in the aftermath of the 2-1 win over Palace. “Now, every time he’s in front of goal you don’t think he’ll miss.”

The man tasked with stopping Mane is expected to be Giovanni Di Lorenzo, who was on the books of Lega Pro C side Matera Calcio two years ago and has been the revelation of Napoli’s season since his summer arrival from Empoli.

Di Lorenzo has started every league game but one, and all four Champions League fixtures.

The 26-year-old’s career has essentially been on fast-forward ever since he signed for Empoli, establishing himself as one of the best attacking full-backs in Italy last term with five goals and three assists for a promoted club that went straight back down.

Di Lorenzo has also caught the eye of Italy boss Roberto Mancini, collecting two caps for the national side since his first call-up in October.

“I must say Di Lorenzo is a great surprise for me,” commented Ancelotti earlier in the campaign. “He is extremely reliable wherever you put him and is a player you don’t need to explain too much to, he just gets it.”