Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti has praised Liverpool as the best team in Europe and concedes that the reigning champions are the favourites on Tuesday night.
The two sides clash in Naples this week in their first outing in the Champions League this season, with three crucial points up for grabs as both will be eager to make a positive start.
Joined by Genk and Red Bull Salzburg in the group, the English and Italian giants will be highly fancied to advance but they’ll also be competing for top spot as well.
Ancelotti has been complimentary and respectful as always when discussing the opposition this week, as reflected in his comments below, as he has conceded that Napoli are facing the strongest side in Europe and that they hope the fans will provide the same kind of backing that the Merseyside giants receive at Anfield to make it an even more difficult task.
“It will be a difficult but very exciting test, we immediately face the strongest of the group and in Europe,” he told the media on Monday, as quoted by Goal Italy. “The goal is to pass the group stage, Liverpool has improved so much and haven’t made any false moves unlike the others. We too have grown. Who’s the favourite? Usually the European champions are favourites…”.
“I am tied to the Reds with some of my biggest disappointments, in ’84 and 2005, but also the joys of victories. But it is a team that inspires me, playing at Anfield is always exciting for the unique environment that they create.
“That factor has a lot to do with why they are unbeatable at home, I hope that tomorrow the San Paolo will have the same impact. Compared to last year, they are more solid away from home though.”
Time will tell if Napoli can upset the reigning European champions or not, but having made a bright start to the Serie A season, winning two of their three games thus far, Ancelotti will hope that his side can put in a top performance to make an early statement of their intent to compete in Europe this season.
Napoli and Liverpool crossed paths in the Champions League last season too, with the home side winning 1-0 on both occasions. That suggests that there was little between them last time round and it remains to be seen if the same applies this year or if one side can emerge as the dominant team across the two meetings and the group stage as a whole.