Matip injury comes at a potentially decisive time for Reds

Liverpool advanced to the round of 16 of Champions League with their thrilling 1-0 triumph over Napoli at Anfield on Tuesday. While it wasn’t necessarily a legendary European night on Merseyside, the game still came down to the wire, with Alisson Becker making a crucial last-minute save to seal the victory.

While Jurgen Klopp’s men are thrilled to have gotten through the “Group of Death,” the victory didn’t come without a cost. Central defender Joel Matip, who has enjoyed a fine spell of form of late, reportedly suffered a broken collarbone during the match. Matip is expected to be sidelined with the injury for a minimum of six weeks, which is a tough blow to a Liverpool defense that has already been dealing with injuries.

Liverpool’s position at the top of the English top flight will be put on the line in the next few weeks. You probably don’t need to have the betting odds explained to you in order to know that the Reds are in prime position to mount a serious league title challenge. Liverpool are sitting alone atop the Premier League table through 17 games with a record of 14-3-0. The Reds have accrued 45 of a possible 48 points, one clear of Manchester City’s 44 points.

Matip has been in the starting XI of late in place of the injured Joe Gomez, who recently suffered a broken leg that will keep him off the pitch for a few weeks. That leaves Dejan Lovren, who has just recently recovered from an injury issue of his own, as the lone remaining healthy partner in the middle of the defense for Virgil Van Dijk.

The timing is brutal considering the condensed holiday schedule Liverpool will be facing in the coming weeks. The Reds are now the lone remaining unbeaten side in the Premier League after Manchester City were recently beaten by Chelsea, but Klopp’s side will be tested amid their injury woes. Matip was making the case that he should get more regular involvement, but his latest setback will likely keep him out of the team’s plans until after Gomez has already returned to the side.

Whether Klopp dips into the squad’s youth reserves for some relief remains to be seen with Gomez and Matip (and potentially Alexander-Arnold) out of the mix.