Carlo Ancelotti

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Ancelotti not satisfied with Napoli despite 3-0 Europa League win

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Napoli took a commanding 3-0 lead over FC Salzburg in Europa League play on Thursday, behind goals from Arkadiusz Milik and Fabián Ruiz in the opening 10 minutes, plus a key second half own-goal to finish the scoreline.

Somehow, manager Carlo Ancelotti still wasn’t satisfied.

“It’s a good result, there are still 90 minutes to play and we cannot make calculations,” Ancelotti said after the match to Sky Sports Italia. “We did some things well, some not so well, and we’ve got to work on those. We allowed some dangerous counter-attacks and through runs that at 3-0 we really could’ve avoided. We can be impenetrable when we defend well, but we get too exuberant and try to push forward.”

While Napoli secured the big victory, the stats show that Ancelotti has a point. Salzburg racked up a whopping 20 shots including six on target, while Napoli had 16 shots with four on target. Salzburg also out-passed Napoli in the attacking third 129-99 and put together a 1.46 xG mark compared to Napoli’s 2.31 mark.

“Salzburg have proved they’ve got great pace and stamina, so we need to be on alert. We need to score at least a goal in the second leg, otherwise we’ll run risks.”

The biggest chance for the visitors came in the 82nd minute as Fredrik Gulbrandsen from close ranged forced a big save by Alex Meret. An away goal for Salzburg would have given Napoli something more to think about in the second leg, but as it stands Ancelotti still wants the team to believe it is under pressure.

Ancelotti says Napoli won’t bunker in against Liverpool

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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.

Ancelotti looks ahead to Liverpool-Napoli showdown

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As Jurgen Klopp looks ahead to Napoli, the Italian side’s boss is eyeing up Anfield.

That’s when Napoli and Liverpool will square off Dec. 11 for the right to advance to the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

Carlo Ancelotti saw his Neapolitan side beat Red Star Belgrade 3-1 on Wednesday, and can walk into the next round with a win, draw, or scoring 1-goal loss against the Reds.

He’s nervous, but ready. From Football-Italia.net:

“We won’t have our fans at Anfield the way we do here, but we already proved that we can beat them. Quite simply, we can’t make calculations. We have to go there and win. … This group tested us more than any other could and we have proved ourselves in Europe. We proved that we can fight it out with everyone.

“This team gives me strong emotions, it had been two years since I’d felt such strong emotions. When you feel for a team, you perform better.”

Napoli held Liverpool without a shot on target in Naples, and the Reds managed just one (a penalty kick) on Wednesday at PSG. The Reds are a different beast at home, though.

Ancelotti has six wins and three losses in nine meetings against Liverpool in his managerial career.

UCL Weds. preview: Spurs, Liverpool get next tests

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Barcelona may be winless in three matches, with two draws, but that isn’t going to lead Tottenham Hotspur boss Mauricio Pochettino down the road to peaceful, restful sleep ahead of their Champions League clash.

[ UCL WRAP: Man City wins, Real loses ]

Messi is also causing Pochettino another kind of trouble, the same pain felt by most of us writers when describing the exploits and greatness of one Lionel Andres Messi Cuccittini.

“It’s difficult to praise him more,” Pochettino said. “You try to find the words that describe him. He’s one of the greatest players ever in football and for me, it’s a great opportunity for everyone to enjoy playing against him. It’s a game to enjoy, of course a game to try to win and to have the opportunity to play against Messi doesn’t happen often.”

Spurs will likely to have to cope with even more absences, with Christian Eriksen, Jan Vertonghen, and Mousa Dembele missing training to join Dele Alli and Serge Aurier in the crowd. And it’s unclear whether Hugo Lloris is healthy enough to take the reins back from Paulo Gazzaniga.

Tottenham lost at Inter Milan in its opener, could really use a home result against Ernesto Valverde’s Barca.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

The other Premier League side in action is Liverpool, who won their UCL debut by holding on to beat Paris Saint-Germain 3-2 at Anfield.

The task is at least equal but possibly more difficult on Wednesday, when Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds hit the road to face Napoli.

The hosts are quite wary of the threat provided by Klopp’s men.

“Liverpool don’t just have one good player – they’ve got several, especially when it comes to playing on the break,” said Ancelotti. “We want to attack and win but we need to be wary of that side of Liverpool. Klopp is a friend. He’s a very experienced coach and his teams have a very clear identity: pace, aggression and intensity. … Liverpool will play with very high intensity so we’ll need to be ready for that.

“It’s important that we show bravery and personality, implement what we’ve worked on and be ready to withstand their counter-attacks. If we play the way we know how, we can cause Liverpool problems.”

Elsewhere, American youngsters Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund) and Weston McKennie (Schalke) could feature, while USMNT and Club Brugge goalkeeper Ethan Horvath isn’t expected to start when Club Brugge visits Atletico Madrid.

Full Weds. slate
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Red Star Belgrade — 12:55 p.m. ET
Lokomotiv Moscow vs. Schalke — 12:55 p.m. ET
Spurs vs. Barcelona — 3 p.m. ET
Borussia Dortmund vs. Monaco — 3 p.m. ET
Napoli vs. Liverpool — 3 p.m. ET
Atletico Madrid vs. Club Brugge — 3 p.m. ET
Porto vs. Galatasaray — 3 p.m. ET
PSV Eindhoven vs. Inter Milan — 3 p.m. ET

Ancelotti hired to end Napoli’s scudetto drought

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Is Carlo Ancelotti the right man to end Juventus’ seemingly ages-old hold on the scudetto?

Napoli hopes so, and has inked the former Real Madrid, Chelsea, and Bayern Munich boss to a three-year deal.

Ancelotti’s resume speaks for itself, and the hiring promises more Serie A drama after the Neapolitan club nearly got the job done this season under Maurizio Sarri.

[ MORE: Top takeaways from Emery’s Arsenal unveiling ] 

Ancelotti won scudetti as a player with Roma (1) and AC Milan (2), once more as a manager for the latter. He also led Milan to two Champions League crowns, winning the tournament with Real Madrid as well, while bringing league titles to Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, and Bayern Munich.

Napoli has finished Top 3 in six of eight seasons, finishing four points behind Juve this season. Juventus has won the last seven scudetti, and Napoli’s only title came in 1987.

The club announced the move after owner Aurelio De Laurentiis let go of Sarri, thanking the previous manager for three seasons of work which included a Serie A Coach of the Year Award and wins in 97 of 147 matches.

“I’d like to thank Maurizio Sarri for his valuable contribution to the Napoli cause. He brought joy and prestige to Naples and Napoli fans all over the world with an entertaining brand of football that drew praise from all quarters. Well done, Maurizio.”