Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti has signalled his surprise at the selection of Hungary’s Viktor Kassai to referee tomorrow night’s Champions League match as a result of past incidents in Europe involving the two of them.
While with Bayern Munich, Ancelotti accused Kassai of not being “up to the task” after he gave Arturo Vidal a red card and allowed an offside goal to stand in stoppage time as Real Madrid beat Bayern in the 2017 semi-finals.
“The referee brings back bad memories relating to my last team,” Ancelotti said at his pre-match press conference today. “I’m surprised by the choice. Time passes and heals some things but does not banish them.”
Ancelotti, perhaps, is showing some of the same concern Pep Guardiola did last season when he complained about the appointment of the referee when Manchester City faced Liverpool—and he was sent to the stands.
But of course, if the referee does believe he in fact did poorly the last time he officiated an Ancelotti side, the possibility exists he might be more inclined to give a close call in his favour this time to try to make up for it.
It’s far from clear cut what any past history between the two might end up leading to. Though, perhaps, that’s at the root of Ancelotti’s surprise. And either way, he’ll be spending most of his time worrying about his opponents.
“They’re one of the best teams around,” he noted of Liverpool. “They reached the final last year and this year they’ve started well, with great organisation. We’re also in top physical condition, so I expect a very intense match.
“Liverpool have a very dangerous attack, especially on the break, so we need to manage counter-attacks. It’s an important game but not a decisive one—we need to try and bring home three points because we dropped two at Red Star.”
Liverpool, on the other hand, took all three points in their Champions League opener against Paris Saint-Germain and know that three more on Wednesday would see them with one foot in the knockout rounds.