Carlo Ancelotti praised Napoli for their 2-0 victory over Liverpool, from quality to the basics, and reveals what he told Jurgen Klopp. "When he loses here, he tends to win the Champions League."
Dries Mertens converted a penalty and Fernando Llorente pounced on a stoppage-time Virgil van Dijk error at the Stadio San Paolo, their second consecutive home win against the Reds.
“It’s always tough against Liverpool, from the first minute to the last. We had to sacrifice ourselves, but without losing our identity,” the Coach told Sky Sport Italia.
“We tried a bit too hard to play it out from the back and lost some dangerous balls, while they were aggressive in their pressing.
“The game was always in the balance, but I particularly appreciated the way we defended with the basics when it was still 0-0 and that’s what allowed us to have those late chances.
“I want to see a team that believes in itself and its quality. I really liked the way we played when we weren’t in control. Llorente helped out, the players were tired and the first goal was from a long ball – which isn’t our usual approach, but it’s not an insult to do that sometimes. This team must know how to do everything.
“We brought in important players who improve the quality level of the squad and have different characteristics to what we had before. I have to keep them motivated and that’s not easy, especially when UEFA still have this rule forcing you to keep a short bench and it’s painful sending players to the stands.”
This is the fourth time Ancelotti has beaten the reigning Champions League holders and he did it with four different clubs.
“We worked hard to defend and attack as a unit, because at times football means adapting to situations and I think we did it well.”
Napoli had also beaten Liverpool at the San Paolo last season, albeit 1-0, and went out in the group stage only on goal difference.
“We felt confident on the second goal, it was near the end and we were a goal up. You can press high at times, not at others, it’s about maintaining your identity and also being able to do everything. I liked our quality, but also how we played ‘ugly’ when we needed to.
“I asked Giovanni Di Lorenzo how many Champions League games he’d played before and he said none. Oh well, it wasn’t bad! The same goes for Alex Meret, that was his debut, as well.”
Ancelotti joked with Jurgen Klopp at the final whistle on the touchline, so what did the Italian say?
“I told him not to worry, because if he loses here, he tends to go on and win the Champions League. I reassured him!”
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