Jurgen Klopp is anticipating an “emotional” Napoli after Champions League holders Liverpool were drawn against Carlo Ancelotti’s side again in this season’s group stage.
Liverpool, who beat Tottenham to claim their sixth title in Europe’s elite club competition, were pitted with Napoli, Genk and Salzburg in Group E.
Napoli have become a familiar foe over recent seasons, having been placed in the same group as the Reds last season.
The Serie A side came out on top in their first meeting in October, but a 1-0 win at Anfield in the last group outing secured Liverpool’s progression behind Paris Saint-Germain.
Ancelotti’s team – who beat Liverpool 3-0 in pre-season – have invested in their squad in the transfer window, bringing in Hirving Lozano for a club-record fee while defender Kostas Manolas has joined from Roma.
Real Madrid’s James Rodriguez and Inter’s Mauro Icardi have also been targeted and although Liverpool will be favourites to top Group E, Klopp knows his side cannot underestimate the Napoli threat.
“Napoli again! I don’t know how often I’ve now played against Napoli, but they’re obviously a very experienced side,” Klopp told Liverpool’s official website.
“Napoli are just a really good side. The home game we played [in last season’s Champions League] was one of the best games we played because it was so rock solid.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 29, 2019
“In the pre-season games, when we won 5-0 in Dublin [in 2018] I was not interested in the result. Now this year we lost 3-0 and that’s not too interesting, but you see how good they are.
“Carlo has such experience and has won the competition so often [three times]. When they went out last year, it was pretty close, so they will remember that and it will be emotional, I am pretty sure.”
Though Liverpool and Napoli are likely to battle it out for the top spots, Klopp feels Genk and Salzburg – Europa League semi-finalists in 2017-18 and the club where Sadio Mane and Naby Keita enjoyed their breakthroughs – will present stern opposition.
“With the other two teams, I know how people will say these are the two smaller teams of the group, they are not,” Klopp added.
“Of course, Salzburg are famous for bringing through new players, like they did with Sadio and Naby – they’ve found a lot of others, too. It will be really interesting.”
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