Napoli aiming to avoid shock Europa League exit at hands of Dnipro
Rafael Bentiez’s Napoli will travel to Ukraine in search of a victory over a stubborn Dnipro side in the second leg of their Europa League semi-final match-up, having been held to a shock 1-1 draw at the Stadio San Paolo last time out.
The tie is finely poised ahead of a potentially enthralling clash on Ukrainian soil, with former Liverpool manager Benitez gunning for a third trophy success in this European competition, having previously secured wins with Valencia and Chelsea in 2004 and 2013 respectively.
Serie A’s fourth-placed side are 7/4 with Coral to clinch European glory this season, and are well capable of cruising past their next opponents with such a clinical strikeforce.
The Little Donkey’s stalwart skipper Marek Hamsik hailed the impact that the former Premier League manager has had in Naples, pointing out his attention to detail as a key factor in the club’s successful run this current campaign.
“He makes himself heard and communicates well with his staff,” stated Hamsik.
“He’s an experienced coach at this level, who will certainly prepare us well to reach our target. We all want to win the trophy; the kit men, club doctors, players – right up to the coach. In football you want to win.”
Although having fallen three points behind Lazio in third position in Italy’s top-flight and conceding a late away goal in their first leg clash with Dnipro, Napoli’s season could potentially end sourly.
The Ukrainian battlers are formidable opposition on home soil, after already toppling Ajax, Club Brugge and Olympiakos at their temporary ground, the NSK Olimpiyskyi, and they are 13/8 to cause another upset by qualifying for this year’s Warsaw-based final.
The hosts will be without Ondrej Mazuch (knee), Roman Zozulya (knee) and Serhiy Kravchenko (unspecified), while Yevhen Shakhov is also doubtful for the clash. Jonathan De Guzman (thigh) is a doubt for Napoli with Swansea City loanee Michu (thigh) and Juan Zuniga (knee) ruled out.
Yevhen Seleznyov netted Dnipro’s vital away strike last time out, cancelling out David Lopez’s opener, and he is 15/2 to score the last goal again in the second leg within 90 minutes. Meanwhile, Napoli will hope their key marksman Gonzalo Higuain can add to his impressive season tally, with the astute Argentine a 9/2 chance to open proceedings.
Napoli, 18/5 to win and both teams to score in normal time, would not be the first Italian outfit to secure victory over Dnipro on their home patch, with Serie A rivals Inter Milan having earned a narrow 1-0 triumph during the group stages, but this would certainly be the most important.