Naples (Italy) (AFP) – Liverpool manger Jurgen Klopp laughed off words of flattery from Napoli’s Carlo Ancelotti on Tuesday saying he would not fall for mind games by the “smart fox” Italian coach.
Former Bayern Munich coach Ancelotti, who took over at Napoli this season, said earlier he believed Liverpool had stepped up a level and were now one of the strongest teams in Europe.
Klopp’s side were losing finalists in last year’s Champions League final and are unbeaten in the Premier League this term.
They got their European campaign off the mark by beating Paris Saint-Germain 3-2 to top Group C, while Napoli drew away to Red Star Belgrade.
“I like Carlo, I respect him a lot,” Klopp said at a press conference in the San Paolo Stadium.
“He was a world-class player and he’s obviously a world-class manager.
“But, as we say in Germany, he’s obviously a smart fox. Saying all these nice things about me before the game is nice but it’s tactics.
“Carlo’s (been) so long in the business and (he is) trying to bring the nice fellow out of me.
“But I’m here ready for a real battle. Yes we were stable in the last few weeks, we performed on a consistent level, but tomorrow we need to step up.
“I don’t see a gap between Napoli and us, it’s going to be a real challenge,” he said.
Klopp’s last visit to Napoli as Borussia Dortmund manager in 2013 saw him sent off in the first half of a 2-1 loss for arguing with an official.
The German recalled watching the second half with the stadium groundsman and admitted it was not his proudest moment.
“It was not my best performance, personally. I reacted in a way that was absolutely not okay.
“I understand why I was not happy but the reaction was too much. I watched two games from the stands, one against Arsenal at home and I don’t know the other one.
“It was because my behaviour was not so good in the Bundesliga as well. But since then it’s been better, that was the last time I got a little too excited. Now I know it will not happen again.”
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