Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is wary of a Napoli side he describes as “stubborn in a very positive way” as the Reds begin the defence of their Champions League crown at the Stadio San Paolo.
The clubs have been drawn in the same group for the second season in a row, with Napoli prevailing in the corresponding fixture last term as Lorenzo Insigne’s late strike settled matters.
Liverpool went on to pip Napoli to a spot in the knockout stages – by virtue of scoring more goals after they finished level on points and a number of other determining factors – before going on to lift the coveted trophy.
While the memory of Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat here last October burns bright in the memory for Klopp, the German believes his side showed immediate improvement against title rivals Manchester City in their next outing and did not allow their levels to drop for the remainder of the campaign.
Klopp said: “Directly after the Napoli away game last year, it was a game where we had to defend really well and we improved in three days, did everything right that we did here wrong and kept that going for the rest of the season.
“Am I sure something like that can never happen again? No, of course not. The boys have given me no signs that I have to doubt them but things like this can happen.
“Last year we learned from one game to the next game and this year we have to use that experience because if you don’t defend with all we have then we have no chance against Napoli, they are so strong.
“They are stubborn in a very positive way; they play football, they break lines, they have counter-attacks, they are creative.
“There are so many good football things and I enjoy analysing Napoli when I watch them, it’s really interesting. But it’s not only interesting, it’s difficult as well.”
Klopp, who revealed Andy Robertson faces a late fitness test after suffering a knock as Liverpool beat Newcastle to maintain their perfect start to the Premier League season, is keen to start afresh in Europe.
He revealed both he and his players are hungry for further silverware and claimed they are feeling no additional pressure of being champions ahead of their Group E opener.
Klopp said: “No, we don’t feel the burden because I don’t know exactly how that should feel. It’s long ago, three or four months (since winning the Champions League).
“We want to create more stories to remember in the future and not only this one, so we cannot stick to that.
“If you go nuts and start taking drugs and drinking and driving different cars or whatever and leave your missus at home because you are now the Champions League winner then I can’t help you. But we are not like this.”
Klopp laughed off suggestions scooping the Champions League title makes Liverpool the best team in Europe, adding: “We cannot be the best team in Europe because Man City is the best team in the world, that’s the same planet!”
Napoli summer signing Fernando Llorente is out for revenge against Liverpool, having been part of the Tottenham side that were beaten in last season’s Madrid final.
He told a press conference: “I’m still bitter about losing in the final against them last year and I really hope I can settle the score this time around as a Napoli player.
“Napoli can make an impact in the Champions League this season. At Tottenham last season, we certainly weren’t touted as one of the favourites, yet we reached the final.”
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