Napoli only needs a draw against Liverpool on Wednesday to secure passage to the Champions League knockout stage, but manager Carlo Ancelotti says they won’t treat this match any differently.
As it stands, Liverpool is out of the Champions League, sitting third in Group C with six points, two back of PSG in second and three behind leaders Napoli. A two-goal victory for Liverpool would see them confirm a place in the knockout round via head-to-head goal differential, while a one-goal win would leave it up to PSG’s result over Red Star, or potentially even lower-level tiebreakers like away goals.
Still, Ancelotti wants Napoli to go for the jugular instead of sitting back and playing for the draw. “We want to control the game. We are not used to playing defensively, we are not capable of doing it. We will not park the bus in front of our goal. We believe we will get through: so far we have prepared a beautiful cake, now we must add the icing.”
Napoli defeated Liverpool 1-0 in Italy way back in early October, and that is what sets the stage for Wednesday’s match. Should Liverpool win, the two clubs would be tied with nine points. In that scenario, tiebreakers would first look to head-to-head points, which would be even as each team would hold three points at home. The next tiebreaker is head-to-head goal differential, which is where Liverpool can take the advantage with a two-goal victory or more. Following that is head-to-head goals scored and head-to-head away goals, and if the teams are still even after that, all of the above tiebreakers are reapplied involving the entire group.
Ancelotti also felt the need to bring up a sore memory for Reds fans to needle his opponent, recalling a 2-0 Chelsea victory at Anfield on the penultimate day of the 2010/11 season that brought the Blues within reach of the Premier League title. “I have fond memories of Anfield,” Ancelotti said, “I effectively won the Premier League title there with Chelsea.”
He also brought up one even more painful result to needle Reds fans, reminding them when an Ancelotti-led AC Milan squad defeated Liverpool in the 2007 Champions League final. “When I think of previous matches with Liverpool, I like the one from 2007 in Athens,” the Italian said.