Carlo Ancelotti confident Napoli can cause upset against Liverpool

Ancelotti thinks his side has what it takes to beat Liverpool on Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 10 December 2018
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Carlo Ancelotti confident Napoli can cause upset against Liverpool

  • Napoli can still go though through to second round if they lose 2-1 at Anfield.
  • Italians on a 12-match unbeaten run in all competitions, and defeated Liverpool 1-0 in October.

LIVERPOOL: Carlo Ancelotti believes Liverpool are good enough to win the Premier League, but the Italian is convinced his Napoli side can knock them out of the Champions League on Tuesday.

Ancelotti, who won the Premier League with Chelsea in 2010, takes his side to Anfield knowing that a point will guarantee a place in the last 16, and a victory will take them through as Group C winners.

Liverpool must win to stand any chance of going through, and a 1-0 scoreline — or any victory by at least two goals — will definitely secure their progress.

Napoli, however, arrive at Anfield on the back of a 12-match unbeaten run in all competitions, and defeated Liverpool 1-0 with a late Lorenzo Insigne goal when the sides met at the Stadio San Paolo in October.

Ancelotti is wary of opponents who overtook Manchester City to go top of the Premier League on Saturday with a 4-0 victory at Bournemouth.

He believes Jurgen Klopp’s side have the squad strength to stay there, despite the wealth of options that Pep Guardiola has at the Etihad Stadium.

“The Premier League is always a competitive league. Liverpool has the possibility to win,” Ancelotti said.

“The fact that they started really well means that it’s possible that they can do it.”

The Napoli boss is fully aware of the impact that the Anfield atmosphere could have on Tuesday’s match, but said that neither he nor his players would be intimidated by it.

“We know what’s at stake. We need to take the final step to get through the group. There’s no way we’re going to take this game lightly,” he said.

“Anfield is a beautiful stadium. The people are really passionate and the atmosphere is the best in the world.

“It is really exciting to be here — my players are positive because everyone wants to play at the best in the world...

“It’s the crunch game tomorrow. If we’re intelligent in the defensive and offensive phases, then we’ll go through.

“We also have a little advantage in the group; the cake has been made — now we need to add a little cherry.”

NAPOLI WON’T SIT BACK

Even though a draw will take Napoli through, Ancelotti has indicated that his team will attack.

They are the joint top scorers in Serie A this season with 32 goals, although they have scored one fewer than Liverpool in their five Champions League group games this season.

“I think we can draw on the first game in Naples, it has given us a lot of confidence and we’d like to put in a repeat performance,” he added.

“Obviously I don’t know what Liverpool are doing tomorrow but we know how they play at home, the kind of intensity, with which they set out.

“We haven’t come here to sit back. We’ve come here to play our own game.”

Napoli have conceded only four goals in the group, and defender Raul Albiol suggested that they will need that discipline to thwart Liverpool’s forward.

“It’ll be important to defend deep and be compact. We know that they’re lethal in the spaces — they have strong, quick forward,” he said.

“The mentality is important, we need to think about scoring.

“It’ll be a tough game, a difficult game; we need to be quick mentally and aggressive. We all want to win this game, but we need to be calm.”


Dutch cap Europe’s World Cup dominance by ousting Japan

Updated 26 June 2019
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Dutch cap Europe’s World Cup dominance by ousting Japan

  • The reigning European champions will need to maintain that composure as they prepare for a meeting with Italy

RENNES, France: Tears were still flowing from Saki Kumagai’s eyes more than 30 minutes later.
With victorious Dutch rivals passing her on the way out of the stadium, Japan’s captain seemed to find solace in speaking about the penalty long after it cost her team a place in the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup.
With Tuesday night’s game entering the 90th minute locked at 1-1, Kumagai’s outstretched left arm blocked the shot Vivianne Miedema had aimed into the right side of the net.
“It had my hand for sure,” Kumagai said. “It’s difficult to accept but it’s also sad. I know that is football.”
Referee Melissa Borjas pointed to the penalty spot and Lieke Martens netted her second goal of the game in the 90th minute to seal a 2-1 victory that sent the Netherlands into the quarterfinals for the first time.
“We have made history,” Martens said. “I’m not usually taking the penalties but I felt really good this game. I asked Sherida Spitse if I could take it and she gave it directly to me and I felt quite relaxed about it.”
The reigning European champions will need to maintain that composure as they prepare for a meeting with Italy on Saturday after going one stage further than their Women’s World Cup debut four years ago.
“We were standing in the circle after the match and we were so happy, yelling at each other,” Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman said. “We were saying, ‘Let’s continue writing history.’“
It is journey’s end for Japan, which won the 2011 tournament and was the runner-up four years later.
The strength of the second-half display counted for nothing.
As befitting a meeting of the Asian and European champions, the game produced some of the slickest action of the World Cup. A backheel flick set up Martens to send the Dutch in front in the 17th minute and Yui Hasegawa equalized in the 43rd to complete a slick passing move.
But the post, crossbar and goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal thwarted Japan’s pursuit of a winning goal.
“I think we lacked the clinical edge,” Japan coach Asako Takakura said. “We have to accept the result, we’re defeated, we’re very disappointed and for all the players I feel very sorry for them and frustrated.”
With the last Asian team eliminated, the Women’s World Cup will have a record seven European teams in the quarterfinals. Norway and England meet in Le Havre on Thursday and France takes on the United States the following night. After the Netherlands plays Italy on Saturday, Germany and Sweden will meet.
“It’s really tough to be here,” Netherlands forward Miedema said. “Sometimes it kind of feels like a Euros.”
That is a title already won by this team, thanks to Miedema’s goals in the final two years ago on home soil.
The fans won’t have far to travel for the World Cup quarterfinal, with Valenciennes around two hours’ drive from the Netherlands.
It will be another chance for the orange-clad fans who danced and sang their way in a convoy to the stadium on Tuesday to stamp their mark on this tournament.
They were certainly given a game to savor, and an audacious opening goal.
Martens flicked in the opener after evading her marker to meet a corner and send the ball through the legs of Yuika Sugasawa into the net.
Sugasawa had a quick chance to tie, only to hit the post. But Japan did equalize by completing an intricate move.
Hina Sugita squared across the penalty area to Yuika Sugasawa, who passed back to Mana Iwabuchi on the edge of the penalty area. After holding off Jackie Groenen on the turn, Iwabuchi slipped the ball through to Hasegawa, who was free to delicately dink a shot over Van Veenendaal into the corner of the net.
It was some way to make the most of a first shot on target for a team that failed to score in two of its three group stage games.
But parity nearly didn’t last long.
Miedema received the ball from Shanice van de Sanden but with only Ayaka Yamashita to beat struck straight at the Japan goalkeeper.
Van Veenendaal came to the rescue of the Dutch in the second half by denying Emi Nakajima as Japan chased the winner.
“Japan is a world class team and you saw that today,” Miedema said. “In the second half you can see they have loads of quality on the pitch.”