Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti said Tuesday he was surprised by the choice of Hungarian Viktor Kassai to referee the Champions League Group C game against Liverpool in Naples.
The Italian was furious with the official after his Bayern Munich side were eliminated from the Champions League by Real Madrid in 2017.
“The referee brings back bad memories for me relating to my last team,” Ancelotti said at a pre-match press conference at the San Paolo Stadium.
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“I’m surprised by the referee designation… a long time has passed and time usually heals certain things, but does not banish them.”
The Hungarian official sent off Bayern midfielder Arturo Vidal for two bookable offences in the match in 2017, while Cristiano Ronaldo scored in extra-time from an offside position as Real Madrid won 6-3 on aggregate.
Ancelotti said at the time Kassai “wasn’t up to the task” of a Champions League quarter-final.
Napoli face Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on Wednesday with the English club top of Group C after beating Paris Saint-Germain 3-2 in their opener while the Italians were held 0-0 at Red Star Belgrade.
“It’s an important game but not a decisive one, we need to try and bring home the three points because we dropped two at Red Star,” Ancelotti said.
“They’re one of the best teams around, they reached the Champions League final last year and this year they’ve started really well, with great organisation.
“We’re also in top physical condition so I expect a very intense match,” added Ancelotti, whose side were beaten by Liverpool 5-0 in a pre-season friendly.
“Jurgen Klopp’s a difficult rival. His teams have a clear identity: very dynamic, aggressive and direct when they attack.”
“From the physical point of view we are ready and we have also demonstrated it with Juve playing with ten as if we were eleven,” said Ancelotti, referring to last weekend’s 3-1 defeat to the Serie A champions where Napoli played with a man down after Mario Rui was sent off.
Napoli forward Lorenzo Insigne — the club’s top scorer this season with five goals in Serie A — believes Brazilian Roberto Firmino will be a danger man.
“They have a lot of strong players, even the ones on the bench,” said the Italian international.
“Firmino is decisive for the wingers, because he pulls defenders away and creates spaces for them to run in to.
“We hope to play a good game, cause them problems, and get three points in the most difficult group of all,” added Insigne, who recalled he scored his first Champions League goal against Borussia Dortmund, then managed by Klopp, five years ago.
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