18:45 GMT 16 August 2017
With the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League qualification process well underway, it is still unknown as to which sides will find themselves in the group stage of Europe’s elite competition. French outfit, Nice make the trip to Naples to face Napoli after they surprised Europe with a 3rd-place finish in Ligue 1 last term. The hosts also had a great season as they also finished 3rd after keeping pace with Roma and Juventus at the top of Serie A. they missed out on the title by five points and lost out on automatic qualification to the group stage by just one point.
The two sides have only ever met on a friendly basis and the two pre-season fixtures came back in 2015 and 2016. The latter ended 3-0 to Napoli while the former saw Nice come out 3-2 winners. Although those games didn’t hold any competitive edge, it still gives an indication of how they have performed in the past.
It is vital for Napoli to use the home advantage in the first leg to take a lead into the second leg and anything other than a win simply won’t be good enough. They don’t have any injured or suspended players to replace so they will have no excuse if they come out as second best in the first exchange.
Latest matches: SSC Napoli
|10.08.2017||Club||SSC Napoli||Espanyol Barcelona||2:0||W|
|06.08.2017||Club||Bournemouth AFC||SSC Napoli||2:2||D|
|02.08.2017||Audi||SSC Napoli||Bayern Munich||2:0||W|
|01.08.2017||Audi||Atletico Madrid||SSC Napoli||2:1||L|
|22.07.2017||Club||SSC Napoli||AC Chievo Verona||1:1||D|
Nice need to avoid heavy defeat in the away leg if they want to progress into the group stage but with their main talisman, Balotelli, unavailable with a leg injury, it won’t easy. They are also without Wylan Cyprien, as they will be for most of the season, but it’s the injury of the Italian striker that will affect them most.
Latest matches: OGC Nice
|11.08.2017||Ligu||OGC Nice||Troyes AC||1:2||L|
|05.08.2017||Ligu||AS Saint Etienne||OGC Nice||1:0||L|
|02.08.2017||UEFA||Ajax Amsterdam||OGC Nice||2:2||D|
|26.07.2017||UEFA||OGC Nice||Ajax Amsterdam||1:1||D|
This tie will undoubtedly be one of the closest of the third round qualifying ties but Napoli should have too much attacking quality for Nice to deal with. The French side have already knocked out Europa League finalists, Ajax but Napoli are a stronger team. The first leg is Napoli’s to lose as they have their home supporters behind them but it isn’t clear which of the two are favourites overall. The injury of Balotelli will be hard for Nice to replace so a Napoli win is the most likely outcome.
16 August 2017 - 18:45 GMT
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