Napoli – Liverpool: solid and persistent Napoli score well-deserved late goal to defeat lackluster Liverpool (1-0)
Carlo Ancelotti, an old fox of European competitions, tweaked his usual game plan to give Napoli an improved buildup structure and defensive solidity against Liverpool’s pressing and counterattacking. Liverpool, who are making little rotations in a brutal stretch of tough matches, were far from their best version on the ball.
Both Napoli and Liverpool are the big challengers of their respective leagues, the favorites to fight against the reigning champions.
However, Liverpool seems to be in a much better position than their Italian counterparts, with Jürgen Klopp’s project seemingly having reached peak maturity. The team has enjoyed the strongest Premier League start in their history and are playing like a well-oiled machine that look capable of challenging the supremacy of Manchester City, the rival they will face this coming weekend.
Things look more uncertain for Napoli. Carlo Ancelotti is one of the most successful managers in the business, but there is a sense that the current squad peaked under former coach Maurizio Sarri and that it will be hard for Ancelotti to improve on the results of his predecessor. To make things worse, Juventus’ signing of Cristiano Ronaldo seems to have widened the gap between the Italian champion and their competitors, something that Napoli painfully confirmed last weekend.
The Champions League seems to provide little consolation for Napoli, with their opening match ending in a disappointing draw against the theoretically weakest team in the group, Red Star Belgrade. A victory against Liverpool, under the warmth of their supporters at the Stadio San Paolo, was vital to restore confidence in the team’s ability to compete against the best in Europe.
In this early . . .