MX23RW : Friday, November 22 21:31:59| >> :600:5824232:5824232:
Sep 17, 2019 at 8pm UK at ​Stadio San Paolo
Attendance: 38,878
Napoli
2-0
Liverpool
Mertens (82' pen.), Llorente (92')
FT(HT: 0-0)

In Focus: Liverpool's Champions League opponents Napoli

In Focus: Liverpool's Champions League opponents Napoli
© Reuters
The Partenopei have finished runners up in Italy in three of the last four seasons.

Liverpool start the defence of their Champions League crown on Tuesday night with a trip to Italy to take on Napoli.

The Reds will need no reminding of the Partenopei's threat after being floored by Lorenzo Insigne's last-minute strike in the corresponding group stage fixture at the Stadio San Paolo last season.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at a side that have finished as runners-up to Juventus in three of the most recent four Serie A seasons.

Always the bridesmaid

Diego Maradona
Diego Maradona was a Napoli player the last time they won the Italian title (PA)

Liverpool fans could perhaps sympathise more than most about Napoli's struggles to get their hands on top-flight silverware. Not since Diego Maradona was close to his pomp in 1989/90 – coincidentally the last time Liverpool finished top of the domestic pile – have the Azzurri lifted the Scudetto. Napoli have come closest to at least putting a chink in Juventus' Serie A hegemony in recent years, running them close in the season before last, where they led the way for much of the campaign only for the Bianconeri to prevail by four points.

Head coach

Arsenal v Napoli – UEFA Europa League – Quarter Final – First Leg – Emirates Stadium
Carlo Ancelotti is Napoli manager (PA)

As one of only three managers to have won the Champions League on three occasions, Carlo Ancelotti appeared an upgrade when he replaced Chelsea-bound Maurizio Sarri last year. However, the Italian was unable to transform Napoli's fortunes in his first season in charge as a Cristiano Ronaldo-inspired Juve cruised to yet another league title. Ancelotti is almost beyond reproach having lifted major honours at AC Milan, Chelsea, Paris St Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, and Napoli will be hoping for a sprinkling of his stardust this term.

Stadium woes?

Napoli v Arsenal – UEFA Europa League – Quarter Final – Second Leg – San Paolo Stadium
The Stadio San Paolo has undergone development work (PA)

Only last week, Ancelotti was raging at the state of the dressing rooms at the San Paolo following renovation work that meant Napoli played the opening two matches of the season away from home. "You can build a house in two months, but they are not capable of renovating the dressing rooms. I'm shocked at the incompetence of the people in charge of the work," Ancelotti said in a statement on the club website, which posted a video of the unfinished changing areas. Those concerns have since died down following Napoli's 2-0 home win over Sampdoria at the weekend.

Star man

AFC Bournemouth v Napoli – Pre-Season Friendly – Vitality Stadium
Ancelotti speaks highly of defender Kalidou Koulibaly (PA)

While Virgil Van Dijk marshals Liverpool's defence, the formidable Kalidou Koulibaly is equally important to the Partenopei. The 28-year-old was named the best defender in Serie A last season, which allows him to wear a celebratory crest on his shirt in this campaign, and he will be key to shackling Liverpool's vaunted front trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. Ancelotti rates the Senegalese as among the best defenders he has worked with, saying earlier this year he is belongs in the class of Paolo Maldini, Lilian Thuram and John Terry.

Recent form

Arsenal v Napoli – UEFA Europa League – Quarter Final – First Leg – Emirates Stadium
Dries Mertens got both goals in the 2-0 win over Sampdoria on Saturday (PA)

Koulibaly has yet to hit his straps this season and was visibly crestfallen when his last-gasp own-goal handed rivals Juventus a 4-3 victory after Napoli had come from three goals down. Napoli were on the right side of a seven-goal thriller in their Serie A season-opener at Fiorentina but their faltering back-line in their opening two fixtures left Ancelotti to lament: "Clearly there are problems." A clean sheet in a more routine victory over Sampdoria at the weekend will ease worries but the acid test of Salah, Firmino and Mane awaits.

body check tags ::
Share this article now:
Instagram - Follow Sports Mole
Virgil van Dijk in action during the Premier League game between Liverpool and Newcastle United on September 14, 2019
Read Next:
How Liverpool could line up against Napoli
>

Championship
La Liga
Bundesliga
Ligue 1
Belgian Pro League
Turkish Super Lig
Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Danish Superliga
Segunda Division
Serie B
2.Bundesliga
Ligue 2
Eerste Divisie
Uruguayan Primera Division
Liga MX
Welsh Premier League
NIFL Premiership
Premier League 2 - Div 1
Premier League 2 - Div 2
Australian A-League
Chinese Super League
European Champions Cup
European Challenge Cup
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool12111028101834
2Leicester CityLeicester128222982126
3Chelsea1282227171026
4Manchester CityMan City1281335132225
5Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd12453139417
6Arsenal124531617-117
7Manchester UnitedMan Utd124441612416
8Wolverhampton WanderersWolves123721615116
9Bournemouth124441515016
10Burnley124351718-115
11Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton124351517-215
12Crystal Palace124351016-615
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle124351118-715
14Tottenham HotspurSpurs123541817114
15Everton124261318-514
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham123451420-613
17Aston Villa123271720-311
18Watford12156823-158
19Southampton122281129-188
20Norwich CityNorwich122191128-177

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!