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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Liverpool are the team to beat in Europe, says Napoli coach Ancelotti

Napoli and Liverpool have both improved since their last meeting in the Champions League, according to Carlo Ancelotti, who has targeted another win.

Liverpool the team to beat in Champions League, says Napoli coach Ancelotti

Carlo Ancelotti rates Liverpool as favourites to win the Champions League but has warned that his Napoli side have also improved since last season's meeting. Liverpool lost 1-0 in Naples last October but won the reverse fixture to scrape through the group stage at Napoli's expense and went on to lift the famous trophy for a sixth time.

The sides face off again at Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday in their Group E opener and Ancelotti has targeted another victory on home soil against "the best team in Europe".

Reds belief

"Liverpool have grown because last season gave them so much awareness," he said at his pre-match news conference. "On the other hand, we've also grown because we've added more quality to our squad. It'll be a hard-fought match as we'll be facing the best team in Europe. We hope to get the same result as last season."

Liverpool have built on their Champions League success by making a perfect start to this season's Premier League campaign, Jürgen Klopp's men winning all five of their matches. Napoli conceded seven goals in their opening two Serie A games before Saturday's 2-0 win over Sampdoria, meanwhile, but Ancelotti does not intend to alter his tactics.

"We mustn't distort our identity and idea," he said. "We must take inspiration from the good things we've done and the problems we've been faced with. We defended very well against them last season and the defensive aspect is very important in games like these. I expect a team capable of defending when necessary, attacking when the opportunity arises and keeping the ball when needed. We'll need the perfect game."

Liverpool's Fabinho and Roberto Firmino

Ancelotti's highs and lows against Liverpool

Ancelotti has mixed memories of playing and managing against Liverpool but is relishing this latest showdown. "My biggest disappointments and my greatest joys are linked to Liverpool," he said. "I lost two finals against them - one as a player with Roma and one as a coach with Milan, and I won one. They're a team who I feel affection for. Playing at Anfield is always a unique feeling for the environment that it creates. We want to be leading lights in the Champions League, but your progress is influenced by so many factors."