Carlo Ancelotti has labelled Liverpool an ‘awesome, fantastic’ team after his Napoli side scrapped to a hard-fought 1-1 Champions League draw at Anfield on Wednesday night, in quotes reported by the Liverpool Echo.
With the Serie A giants embroiled in a nightmare on and off the pitch with a public row between the players and owner Aurelio Di Laurentiis threatening to derail their season, few might have expected such a disciplined and diligent performance at the home of the European champions.
But while Napoli are now six games without a win, thanks to a towering Dejan Lovren header which cancelled out Dries Mertens’ early rocket, Ancelotti left Anfield with his head held high and rightly so.
The Partenopei ‘did a job’ on Liverpool, keeping Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and co at arms length throughout an energy-sapping encounter with Kalidou Koulibaly, Kostas Manolos and tenacious midfielder Allan all producing heroic performances.
In short, it was an old-school Italian performance in Europe, a throwback to the Catenaccio days of yesteryear.
“I knew we would play well, I was convinced we would play well. Liverpool are an awesome team, a fantastic team,” former Chelsea, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich boss Ancelotti said.
“You will suffer at times against them but I knew we would create problems for them, perhaps because of the way we play.
"But just because you play a great game against a team like Liverpool doesn't mean you necessarily get a result.
“Maybe the game wasn't aesthetically pleasing but we were clear minded and solid and our aim wasn't to put in a fantastic performance, our objective was to get through to the next round and we are a point nearer. We showed great character and mentality.”
The 1-1 draw means Napoli have taken four points off Liverpool in the Champions League this season, having beaten Jurgen Klopp’s side at the Stadio San Paolo in the group stage last year too.
And The Reds should be a little concerned about how comfortably Napoli were able to shackle their star players and knock them out of their stride in front of an eerily quiet Anfield crowd.
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