Wednesday 16 Aug

Napoli vs Nice - Match preview

15 Aug 2017 Ed Mackey INTERNATIONAL CLUBS: UEFA Champions League, Qualification
INTERNATIONAL CLUBS: UEFA Champions League, Qualification

SSC Napoli

  • D
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W

vs

Kick-off
18:45 GMT
16 August 2017

OGC Nice

  • W
  • D
  • D
  • L
  • L

Kick-off
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.

STATS

  • Napoli finished the 2016/17 season in imperious form as they began to pick up some real steam. They won each of their last five games and scored 17 goals in the process as they closed the gap on the top two sides in the league. With 13 goals in the last three games, they were Europe’s hottest team and they’ll be hoping to use their deadly strike force against Nice.
  • Nice have started their domestic season very poorly and with two losses in their first two league games, it is clear that they are solely focused on qualification for the Champions League group stage. Their performance last term wasn’t expected by anyone and the fact that they were even in contention for a Champions League place was brilliant for the club.
  • The frontline of Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon is scary for any defensive line and they proved exactly why they are feared on numerous occasions last season. Mertens scored 28 goals, Insigne managed 18 while Callejon netted 14.
  • Former Manchester City striker, Mario Balotelli rediscovered his goal scoring form last season as he provided Nice’s main attacking with 15 league goals.

HEAD TO HEAD

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.

NAPOLI NEWS

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 NEWS

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
20.07.2017 Club Monchengladbach OGC Nice 1:2 W

SUMMARY

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.

About the author - Ed Mackey

Experienced sports writer and huge Leicester City fan.

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