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Napoli v. Swansea: Leaving It All For The Home Turf

A scoreless draw last week means that Napoli have to win against Swansea in order to advance to the next Europa League knockout round.

"Look in to my eyes, my eyes, look only in my eyes, and you're under!" "Shut up, Rafa."
"Look in to my eyes, my eyes, look only in my eyes, and you're under!" "Shut up, Rafa."
Stu Forster

Tomorrow sees Napoli in a do-or-die match against Swansea at the Stadio San Paolo. Napoli have done extremely well in important matches this season, especially at home, and hopefully this will be no different.

Napoli v. Swansea:2/27/14 7:00 PM CET, 1:00 PM EST Stadio San PaoloNaples, Italy
Scramble For An Upset

Swansea are in a position to put together a massive upset, but you have to wonder if they'll have the energy to do it, especially away from home. While they had rested their primary starters before the first leg last week, they played hard from start to finish, then had another high-intensity match against Liverpool on Sunday. With a relatively shallow squad and injury issues to boot, they might not be able to keep up the focus and intensity they'll need to beat Napoli in Italy.

With that in mind, look for them to press hard early, then sit back and look to absorb Napoli's pressure while looking to hit on the counter. They got a good lesson on how best to do that from Genoa this weekend, though hopefully they were too busy losing late to Liverpool to pay attention to it. The substitutions that Garry Monk makes will be vital to Swansea's success or failure.

Michu continues to be unavailable, while Jonjo Shelvey is also out after picking up a hamstring injury on Sunday. That takes away two of the Swans' most potent weapons, and while Wilfried Bony has been a terror in his activity in front of goal, his finishing touch has been wildly off of late. Given Swansea's injury and energy issues, they'll be reliant on defensive breakdowns to create significant chances; unfortunately, such breakdowns have been far too common for Napoli this season.

Time To Finish The Job

A more-pragmatic-than-expected display against Swansea in the away leg and a horrid second half saw Napoli draw their last two matches and isn't leaving the fanbase in the best of spirits going in to this vital match. Napoli will have to play much, much better than they have of late if they want to advance to the round of 16.

Expect as full-strength a side as Rafa Benitez can throw out. Jorginho isn't available due to his not being registered for the Europa League yet, but otherwise Napoli should be able to put out a first choice lineup. Raul Albiol and Gonzalo Higuain have looked a bit tired of late, but both will have the weekend match against Livorno off via suspension, so they can put all their energy in to this match knowing that they'll have a rest soon. There's some concern that neither double pivot option (Inler-Behrami or Inler-Dzemaili) have looked good of late, but there's not much to be done about that but hope that a full-strength back line will be enough to hold Swansea at bay.

The only other question in the lineup is whether it'd be better to start Lorenzo Insigne or Dries Mertens on the left side of the attack. Both have seen their form wax and wane of late, but while Mertens has been on the downslope, it seems like his movement early in the match and Insigne's intensity off the bench

Projected lineups

Napoli: Reina; Maggio, Fernandez, Albiol, Ghoulam; Inler, Behrami; Callejon, Hamsik, Insigne; Higuain

Swansea City: Vorm; Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies; De Guzman, Cañas; Dyer, Hernandez, Routledge; Bony

At a glance

Swansea City: Twelfth in EPL, 7W, 7D, 13L

Napoli: 3rd in Serie A; 15W 6D 4L

Watch it

The match will start Thursday at 7:00 PM CET/1:00 PM EST. Television coverage will be on Sky Calcio 1 in Italy, ITV 4 in the UK, and Fox Sports 1 in America. Other live viewing options can be found here, and as always, we'll have a match thread live here for discussion of the game at hand. You can also follow along with us live on Twitter.