Dries Mertens has stoked the fires before tonight’s Champions League clash with Liverpool by suggesting the atmosphere isn’t all that.
Anfield is famous for its European nights, and Jurgen Klopp has often cited the power of the crowd as the primary reason for our progression in various ties, such as against Borussia Dortmund in 2016, or the incredible performances at home to Manchester City and AS Roma last season.
But Napoli’s Belgian striker thinks Anfield is overrated and that the atmosphere will not intimidate any of his team.
“My strongest memory is that they have a sign saying ‘This is Anfield’ and everyone was talking about it, so I was thinking it’s very big, you know,” he told the Times. “I came through the tunnel and I asked, ‘Where is the thing?’ and they said you missed it and I hadn’t noticed it. So, in the second half, I’m looking at this small thing and asking, ‘Is this so special?’ ”
“They had a special price for children, so maybe not,” he says, when asked about if the atmosphere was intimidating.
“Football in Italy is crazy and the people are very crazy too so I think we are used to it. For me, it will push me to a different level, these are the nights we want to play.”
We’re over the moon with Mertens’ comments, as it gives Anfield a chance to prove him wrong.
In all honesty, Anfield is often quite shoddy in terms of vibrancy during Premier League fixtures, but on a must-win European night, the supporters will show up and make the required noise.
A 1-0 win will secure our passage into the knockout stages, but if Napoli score, we’ll need to win by two goals.
They’re a very good side with one of the world’s best defenders marshalling their backline in Kalidou Koulibaly, but if we start fast, we should have enough.