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Napoli's Dries Mertens Mocks Liverpool's 'This Is Anfield' Sign Before UCL Clash

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistDecember 11, 2018

NAPLES, ITALY - NOVEMBER 28:  Dries Mertens of SSC Napoli in action during the Group C match of the UEFA Champions League between SSC Napoli and Red Star Belgrade at Stadio San Paolo on November 28, 2018 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)
Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Napoli forward Dries Mertens has taunted Liverpool ahead of Tuesday's clutch UEFA Champions League Group C match on Merseyside and mocked his opponents' famous "This Is Anfield" sign. 

The sign is notorious for welcoming visiting players to Liverpool's turf, but Mertens told The Times' Alyson Rudd (h/t The Independent) he was nonplussed when seeing it for the first time as a Utrecht player in 2010:

"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. 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?'

"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."

Goal's Neil Jones put the comment down as little more than a bit of gamesmanship in the build-up to Tuesday's clash:

Neil Jones @neiljonesgoal

Dries Mertens on his memories of playing at Anfield, for FC Utrecht in 2010. He's done that thing that visiting players/coaches do. Interview with @allyrudd_times in today's Times. https://t.co/g80REgzs6b

Except Liverpool had already won Europa League Group K when these two teams met for a first time at Anfield almost eight years ago to the day. That dead rubber matchup won't compare to Anfield's atmosphere on Tuesday, when Jurgen Klopp's side still have a chance of topping Group C.

Napoli lead on nine points as things stand, with Paris Saint-Germain just one point behind and third-placed Liverpool three points off the pace in third. PSG travel to Red Star Belgrade and are guaranteed to advance with a victory, although any of the big three could still finish first.

The Reds were late losers in their trip to the Stadio San Paolo in October but would progress with a 1-0 victory, as Goal broke down the parameters entering the final round of group matches:

Goal @goal

#UCL Group C: 🇮🇹 Napoli: Through with a draw/if they & PSG lose 🇫🇷 PSG: Through if they win/LFC don't 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Liverpool: Must win 1-0/by two goals if PSG win. If they, PSG & Nap finish on nine points, #LFC through 🇷🇸 Red Star: Third if they win & LFC lose, but LFC have better H2H https://t.co/gcDAHp342A

Lorenzo Insigne supplied the sole strike in Naples to give Carlo Ancelotti's men a crucial edge in their hopes of making the round of 16, via BT Sport (UK only):

Mertens, 31, has scored three times in five European appearances this season and has 10 goals across all competitions—Napoli's joint top scorer alongside Insigne.

Paris Saint-Germain pair Kylian Mbappe and Thomas Meunier are the only players to score at Anfield in Europe this term, with Napoli seeking to avoid the same shutout suffered by Red Star in October.

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