Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti heaped praise on his team after holding Liverpool to a 1-1 draw at Anfield and insisted that he knew the Italian side would fare well against Jurgen Klopp's outfit as long as they stuck to his plan.
The Partenopei are now without a win in seven consecutive matches and have been in the headlines due to club president Aurelio De Laurentiis having enforced a 'ritiro' training camp lockdown on the players following poor results.
Wednesday's draw with last season's Champions League winners has gone some way to lifting the spirits around Stadio San Paolo, however, with Ancelotti's tactics working well to control a side that often have free rein to play their own style and dominate matches.
“We changed the players but not the basic structure of the team,” Ancelotti told Sky Sport Italia of his game plan. “[Giovani] Di Lorenzo (a natural right-back) played wide on the right when we had the ball then got back to help the midfield in a 4-4-2 when defending.
“Liverpool have enormous quality but they become more controllable when they are forced to play in tight spaces.”
Ancelotti added that De Laurentiis had passed on his congratulations to the players but the coach was quick to point out that their dreadful Serie A form must improve before the club can truly feel like they are back to their brilliant best.
“It was a good evening, we got a point and remain in the running for both qualification and the top spot in the group,” Ancelotti added. “It’s not easy to get a draw here. We suffered under pressure and began to defend too deep, but there’s no other way to emerge alive from Anfield.
“We emerged alive and that’s the important thing. I spoke to the president, he was very happy with everyone and congratulated us all on the performance.
“I remain surprised not by these performances in the Champions League, but by the Serie A games where we haven’t been as concentrated or committed. That is certainly a limitation we have, we need to work on it, but this result and performance can help us get away from a difficult patch.
“This is a healthy club, within the locker room and with the desire of everyone to get out of this rut. There are always going to be difficult moments in football, but we are on the right track and it’s important not to lose our heads.”