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SSC Napoli-Villarreal CF EUROPA LEAGUE PREVIEW

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A finely poised tie here; Villarreal have a bit of an advantage with a one-goal lead from the first leg and no away goals for the Italians, but it's doubtful the Submarine can make it through the tie without scoring at least one goal here.

Nothing like a selfie in front of the harbor!
Nothing like a selfie in front of the harbor!
Roberto Soldado twitter

Villarreal's traveling party has arrived in Naples for tomorrow's match, and it includes the following 19 players (three keepers are included in case of an injury in the warmups, one will be discarded):

  • Keepers: Areola, Barbosa and Asenjo.
  • Defenders: Rukavina, Mario, Jaume Costa, Víctor Ruiz, Musacchio, Bonera, Eric Bailly.
  • Midfielders: Pina, Bruno, Trigueros, Denis Suárez, Castillejo.
  • Strikers: Soldado, Bakambu, Leo Baptistao, Adrián López.

Jaume Costa is evidently OK, Adrian Marin is not included among the defenders.  Midfield is light with Samu G and Jonathan dos Santos both out, but as we saw on Sunday it's possible Rukavina could play on the right wing, and we have all four strikers included.

Napoli come in feeling a bit unlucky; they conceded a late winner in Vila-real, and weren't able to pick up three points against AC Milan at home, so they failed to take advantage of a Juventus draw on the road.  Still, they have been tough to beat at the San Siro.  In the Europa League group stage they scored five goals in each of their home matches--they probably won't need to score five to win this match, but they might need to score three if Villarreal notch an away goal.

Surely Napoli will play their strongest side in this one, and they do get their midfield creator Jorginho back from illness.  I don't yet see they've named their side though.

How will this match go?  On the one hand, Napoli's need to attack will mean that Villarreal probably will have a couple of chances to hit them on the counter.  However, it's going to be difficult for the Submarine defense to hold out for an entire match yet again, especially as Naples will be cheered on by a raucous home crowd.  I think the key is, can we score?

Which means we either need to create set-piece opportunities, or we need to convert one of those chances Soldado and Bakambu have been creating but then fluffing.

Prediction: I'm going to say 1-1, Villarreal going through.  But it could be most anything, to be honest.  It's going to be nerveracking.