Saturday, November 18, 2017

Prediction: Nice vs Napoli

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 8/13

Bookmaker: bet365

Nice were somewhat fortunate not to lose by a greater margin at Stadio San Paolo, but they face a mountain to climb even after the 2-0 defeat in Italy. Napoli, on the other hand, are playing with a great deal of confidence at the moment, and this tie is theirs to lose.

Nice

Nice did well to make it to the Champions League play-off as they defeated very good Ajax side in the previous stage, but les Aiglons were clearly not prepared for the high-profile game against Napoli. The likes of Wesley Sneijder and Mario Balotelli were not only sorely missed because of their footballing qualities, but also due to their wealth of experience at the biggest stage, something that Napoli players had in abundance and their Nice counterparts desperately lacked. Despite the fact that it was the Azzurri’s first competitive game of the season, they looked sharp on the night, scored two goals and should have probably added few more. Les Aiglons, on the other hand, were utterly disappointing, recording third successive defeat and losing two more players for the second leg. There were finally some positives for Lucien Favre’s charges this weekend as Nice got back to winning ways against Guingamp in a match that saw both Wesley Sneijder and Mario Balotelli return from injury. Hence, the team will undoubtedly be stronger in the return leg, but that is unlikely to prove enough against in-form Napoli.

Team News

The two superstars could both start on Tuesday, but Vincent Koziello and Alassane Plea are both suspended after being sent off a week ago.

Napoli

Napoli have been constantly improving over the last few years, but it would appear as though this could prove to be their breakthrough season. Former Empoli boss Maurizio Sarri has done really well in his first two years in charge and the continuity is likely to be the team’s main advantage this term. On top of that, the Azzurri boast considerable strength in depth, their players are brimming with confidence at the moment having learned that they have what it takes to match the best sides in Italy and Europe. Even though the team are clearly not in the best shape yet, Napoli produced a confident performance in the first leg against Nice, fashioning chances with ease and scoring two goals to grab the tie by the scruff of neck. Granted, the Azzurri could have scored few more, but even a 2-0 win makes them clear favourites to go through. Maurizio Sarri’s side continued in the same manner at the weekend, defeating newly-promoted Hellas Verona on the road, with fit-again Arkadiusz Milik getting on the scoresheet. With Nice forced to attack from the off, Napoli will get plenty of opportunities to catch the opposition on the break and we fully expect them to ease off to the group stages.

Team News

Dries Mertens, Allan and Jorginho should be recalled after they were rested at the weekend, while there are no fresh selection problems to report.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Napoli completely outclassed Nice in the first leg
  • Les Aiglons failed to muster a single shot on target
  • Nice have Sneijder and Balotelli back, but two players are banned
  • Napoli bagging goals for fun at the moment
  • Both teams scored on Napoli’s last seven CL travels

Conclusion

With Balotelli and Sneijder back to the side, Nice have the potential to score against Napoli, but we seriously doubt they can outscore the in-form opposition. The Azzurri should have no problems securing their progress, but we still expect to see an entertaining game.

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 8/13

Bookmaker: bet365

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