Ancelotti’s Napoli – defensive issues and a San Paolo home that doesn’t feel like home

Liverpool get their Champions League defence underway this week, travelling to Italy for a clash with Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli. In the lead up to the match, the Italian club has problems both on and off the pitch.

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Liverpool get their Champions League defence underway this week, travelling to Italy for a clash with Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli.

Just days before, the Reds’ opponents were dealt a significant blow. The Italian side – who were knocked out last season in the group stage by Liverpool – still had a construction site for a dressing room.

Due to renovation of their San Paolo home, Ancelotti’s side were yet to play host this season and instead had played two away games. That changed at the weekend when strugglers Sampdoria visited Naples, but just the day before the official S.S.C. Napoli Twitter account posted a video of the dressing rooms looking very much incomplete.

Regardless, Ancelotti has made his displeasure clear. He blasted the process whilst referring to the upcoming games.

He said: “I have seen the state of the dressing rooms at the San Paolo. There are no words. I accepted the club’s request to play the first two games away from home to allow the work to be finished, as was promised.

“You can build a house in two months, but they weren’t capable of renovating the dressing rooms! Where are we supposed to get changed against Sampdoria and Liverpool?”

The Serie A game went ahead so they clearly found somewhere to do it. Looking towards the Champions League opener against Liverpool, though, the manager will surely have further worries on his mind.

Despite a fairly respectable start to the season on paper – beating Fiorentina and losing marginally against champions Juventus before a convincing victory over il Blucerchiati – his side leaked a hefty seven goals in the first two games.

Lorenzo Insigne scored to goal that best Liverpool in Italy last season. Image © The Kopite

Napoli started the season with a 4-3 win in Florence before a thrilling loss by the same scoreline at the hands of Maurizio Sarri’s Old Lady. It was a game in which I Partenopei fought back from a three goal deficit, showing grit and great character.

Irrespective of that fight, such an unconvincing defensive display against Liverpool would leave them horribly open against arguably the best front line in the world. The Reds have averaged three goals per game to begin the season, most recently beating Newcastle United 3-1 at home.

When the two sides met at the San Paolo last season it was the hosts who ran out winners by one solitary goal, courtesy of Lorenzo Insigne’s late winner. But so much has changed for a side that won this competition and the following UEFA Super Cup. Further progress has been made.

A clear sign came when Jürgen Klopp’s men outplayed German giants Bayern Munich on their own turf. An impressive performance saw Liverpool run out comfortable victors on the day, announcing themselves once again as a serious threat.

It will be interesting to see how the Reds cope away from home in the group phases, having lost every game on the road at this stage last season. The Anfield club were lucky to qualify last year – they must be better playing on the continent if they are to be more comfortable this time.

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