Friday, March 23, 2018

Prediction: Napoli vs Shakhtar Donetsk

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Best Odds: 5/8

Bookmaker: 888sport

The Ukrainian giants travel to Italy looking to remain unbeaten and thus lock their place in the knockout stages of the elite club competition, whereas the forthcoming clash is make it or break it for Serie A hot-shots who are still harboring some chance of avoiding premature Champions League elimination.


Without a single defeat in Serie A, leaders Napoli are running riot in their domestic exploits and this weekend’s 2-1 win over AC Milan is the latest confirmation of their strength and determination to challenge for Scudetto.

Maurizio Sarri’s men are playing incredible football which gained plenty of admirers all over the continent, although Partenopei’s efforts have not been that rewarding in the Champions League. The 3-1 win over Feyenoord back in September stands as only three points Napoli got thus far in the campaign and saying they are desperate for points would be an understatement ahead of the Shakhtar visit. The Serie A leaders put in a great fight in both ties against Premier League leaders Manchester City but failed to get anything out of their last two matches and are now eager to at least get their payback for the opening Champions League defeat in Ukraine (2-1). Napoli need a win which would be much more than just three points and a fighting chance in the continental elite competition. Three points against Shakhtar would extend their European adventure and also prove that their below-par Champions League start was merely a string of unfortunate events.

Team News

Faouzi Ghoulam and long-term absentee Arkadiusz Milik are both rules out of the Tuesday’s encounter with knee injuries.

The same problem is troubling the Serbia defender Nikola Maksimovic whose participation in this crucial Champions League match is under doubt.

Shakhtar Donetsk

Unlike their Italian hosts, Shakhtar Donets are in significantly lighter spirits ahead of the Tuesday’s encounter at San Paolo stadium. The Ukrainian giants are trailing group leaders Manchester City by three points and are well aware that even a point in Italy would mean they will progress to the knockout stage of the Champions League.

With only a bravely-fought 2-1 defeat at the hands of Manchester City ruining their perfect group record, Paulo Fonseca’s men will be keen to put in a determined display and make things difficult for struggling Italians. Shakhtar have clearly been pressured by the challenge lying ahead as they are coming off from a surprising 2-1 home defeat at the hands of the tenth-placed Oleksandriya, which is only their second set-back this season in the Ukrainian top division. Brazilian talisman Bernanrd scored the only goal for Shakhtar this weekend and is expected to continue in the same rhythm during the week as well. Once regarded as one of Brazil’s biggest talents, Bernand is enjoying his football under Paolo Fonseca and with two goals in his last two outings for Shakhtar he is sure to be the one to monitor on Tuesday.

Team News

Defender Sergey Kryvtsov is struggling with his knee injury and will be out of contention for the upcoming match.

The 24-year-old midfielder Maksym Malyshev is having the same problem and will also miss the trip to Italy.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Napoli are coming off from back-to-back UCL defeats vs Man City
  • Shakhtar Donetsk only need a point to secure promotion to the knockout stage
  • Partenopei failed to keep a clean sheet in 4 of last 5 matches across competitions
  • Ukrainians also conceded at least a goal in their last five games
  • Shakhtar Donetsk lost only two of their last 20 matches


Serie A leaders Napoli are clearly investing a great deal of energy into their domestic exploits given their poor run of form in the Champions League this season. Sitting on the very edge they need to win and better 2-1 result from the first match in Ukraine in order of still have any chance of going through in the competition. The Ukrainians are a force to be reckoned with and will be a tough nut to crack, however.

Verdict: Both teams to score – yes

Best Odds: 5/8

Bookmaker: 888sport


Milos Markovic

Formerly a Chief Editor at the largest sports site in Serbia, Milos Markovic is an avid football writer who contributes to a variety of online football magazines - most prominently and His feature articles, editorials, interviews and match analyses have provided informed opinion and views, helping the football aficionados keep up to date on relevant events in world football.



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