Foot Predictions shows the Europa League clash on Thursday between Napoli and Granada, including hunches, news about the teams and possible lineups.
Facing the difficult task of overcoming a deficit of two goals in the first leg of last week, an injury Napoli host overachievers Grenade on Thursday, in the last-32 of the Europa League.
The La Liga team continues to make waves in its impressive debut campaign on the continent and now plans to finish work at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, securing a place in the tie for Friday’s round of 16.
While Napoli extended their unbeaten run away to seven group stage games before the turn of the year, they have now lost their last three games outside Italy in the Europa League knockout stage after the Serie A team were knocked out by Granada better and better. Thursday night in Andalusia.
Before a defeat resulting from two goals scored early, Partenopei could name just 12 senior field players, with the game between Serie A’s main clashes with Juventus – which they won against all odds due to a brilliant display of unity – and Atalanta, by whom they were defeated after an incredible second half of six goals in Bergamo.
As in Granada, the Neapolitans stayed behind first at the Gewiss Stadium – something they have done a total of 13 times this season, but have failed to save even one point on 10 occasions – suggesting a certain lack of composure and perhaps even character at the camp.
After a turbulent period, in which their championship form was impaired and they lost the Italian Supercoppa to former rival Juve, head coach Gennaro GattusoThe position of is under much scrutiny – mainly because his current contract expires in the summer.
Napoli’s proud defensive record, having been the second best in Serie A, was smashed to pieces during their 4-2 defeat on Sunday and it now appears that the victory over Juventus was just a brief, calm episode amid rough waters for Partenopei, as in the last five games, recorded only one victory for four defeats.
Injuries have undoubtedly played a role in these recent difficulties and it is expected that Gattuso’s list of unavailable players will still reach eight this Thursday, presenting the junior coach with another headache in the selection while he tries to maintain his team in the dispute for the last piece of cutlery available to them this season.
One of the six former UEFA Cup winners in the final 32 – along with Ajax, Bayer Leverkusen, PSV, Shakhtar Donetsk and Tottenham Hotspur – would be the crowning achievement of the club’s regeneration in the past decade if Napoli could win the first European title since days intoxicating in Diego maradona surrounded the stadium that now bears his name.
The next step on this path is fraught with difficulties, as it hosts a Spanish team that continues to defy expectations and maintains a clear psychological advantage from last week.
In domestic service, Napoli managed to maintain a goal rate of more than two per game – despite major strikers Dries Mertens and Victor Osimhen losing much of the campaign due to injury and illness – they must believe that a memorable return is still possible.
A surprise package whose ambition keeps growing, Granada heads to Campania in search of defending the 2-0 lead and securing a place in the tie of the round of 16 – which represents a phenomenal feat for a team that languished in the second division of Spain just two years ago.
Little doubt remained as to the star of last week’s show as a midfielder Yangel Herrera was influential all the time. The 23-year-old Venezuelan scored Granada’s opening goal and surpassed Napoli’s most established stars, earning praise for the former Manchester City intern from the Spanish sports press.
Led by the youngest manager in the League, Diego martinezGranada surpassed all expectations in the last three seasons, winning promotion to the first division in the first season with the 40-year-old and qualifying for Europe by finishing seventh in 2019-20. Making their continental debut this season, they sailed comfortably in the group stage and now have a foot in the final 16.
Before the trip to Naples, the brave Andalusian side are unbeaten in UEFA competitions outside Spain, having won their first four games outside this season, before drawing the fifth 0-0 with PAOK in Greece. In addition, they have suffered only twice in their travels across Europe so far.
Although Granada were beaten 3-2 last weekend at Huesca’s last weekend, despite taking the lead early Dominic Quina, they remain in the top half of the Primera Division ranking. Still, Martinez has concerns about his recent form, as in the last six games in all competitions, he has won just one victory, two draws and three defeats during that period.
Certainly, his defense is not exactly invulnerable, since he has suffered 41 goals in La Liga – the worst defensive record in the league. Keeping the back door closed on Thursday, however, will be an integral part of Granada’s hopes of continuing a memorable maiden voyage through unprecedented waters for the club.
Napoli Europa League form: WWWDDL
Napoli form (all competitions): DLLWLL
Granada Europa League form: DWWLDW
Granada form (all competitions): DLDLWL
All news from the teams
Napoli striker Victor Osimhen spent the night under observation at a hospital in Bergamo after an alarming collapse at the end of his defeat at Atalanta on Sunday. The Nigeria international was knocked unconscious due to an incident in the final minutes of the game and was later sent off the pitch, so he will join the home team’s long list of absences.
Mostly first choice options, Dries Mertens, Diego demme, Andrea Petagna, Elseid Hysaj, David Ospina, Kostas Manolas and without a doubt the star man of this season, Hirving Lozano, everyone loses this week. Therefore, Gennaro Gattuso will be forced to field almost the same team as Sunday, only with Osimhen being replaced by the slightly smaller Lorenzo Insigne, who will act as a ‘false nine’.
Granada coach Diego Martinez is expected to retain the 4-2-3-1 in the first leg, with Yangel Herrera and Maxime Gonalons must return to the starting lineup in midfield.
Defender German Sanchez – sent off in disappointing defeat by Huesca – Antonio Puertas, Yan Eteki and Alberto Soro everyone should leave the side, because Darwin Machis, Jose molina and Kenedy return in the attack.
Neyder Lozano, Luis milla, Luis Suarez and Roberto Soldado are all on the sidelines because of injuries, although Jesus Vallejo you can come back from a first-hand injury.
Possible initial line-up for Napoli:
Meret; Di Lorenzo, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Rui; Elmas, Bakayoko, Ruiz; Politano, Insigne, Zielinski
Possible initial line-up for Granada:
Silva; Foulquier, Duarte, Sanchez, Neva; Herrera, Gonalons; Kenedy, Montoro, Machis; Molina
Probability: Napoli 2-1 Granada
The dream can continue for the modest Granada, with his most illustrious opponent struggling with both injuries and expectations.
Napoli’s only hope of overcoming the deficit is if he can muster the spirit and cohesion shown against Juventus earlier this month. Expect Partenopei to hit the net at least once, due to the opponent’s obvious defensive deficiencies, but his improvised team could narrowly lose without the support of the 12th players of the fans of Stadio Maradona.
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