Another Thursday, another Europa League match for Napoli. This time, our beloved partenopei have traveled allllll the way up to Herning, Denmark -- a town who's total population of 48,000 doesn't even fill the San Paolo -- to face defending Danish Superligaen champions, FC Midtjylland.
Napoli and Midtjylland are even atop Group D on six points apiece after they both beat Club Brugge and Legia Warsaw with ease. Now they go head-to-head in a battle for supremacy in the group, with pride and positioning on the line. Can Napoli come out of Scandinavia with all three points and a story of glorious battle? Only time will tell.
Keep the good times rolling
Napoli are in incredible form and high spirits, looking better and happier than they have in a long time. They're playing with an infectious energy and joy that you just have to love, and they have oh so much momentum coming into this match. How could you pick against them right now, really?
Well, there's always the random craziness of the Europa League to deal with.
A long trip to Denmark -- especially after Napoli's flight was delayed -- could prove a limiting factor for the team's performance, as could rotation and the injury-forced absence of their Europa League talisman, Dries Mertens. We should see a larger mix of starters than Napoli have typically used in Europa matches, with a tough opponent and group positioning on the line.
Hopefully we'll see Napoli hold nothing back, because this has all the makings of a very memorable match -- unless, of course, things go horribly, horribly wrong. Though it'd still be memorable then, just for all the wrong reasons.
More dangerous than you think
Napoli may have enjoyed an easy time of things in their first two Europa League matches, but Midtjylland won't be rolling over and playing dead. They're also a perfect two-wins-in-two alongside Napoli, and beat a very tough opponent in English outfit Southampton just to qualify for the group stage. Make no mistake: this is going to be a tough game.
Midtjylland are an interestingly-built team, with quick and aggressive attackers -- the exact kind Napoli hate to face -- paired with a midfield and defense who have high work rates across the board. Napoli's positive results this season have come in part from out-working their opponents, but they're going to be hard pressed to do that in this match. Frankly, their team's nickname -- Ulvene, Danish for the Wolves -- sounds awfully appropriate for how the team is constructed.
The toughest thing for them, though, might be the man in goal. Mikkel Andersen may have disappointed in England with Reading, but this season he's been red-hot since he got tapped to replace the injured Johan Dahlin. Andersen has kept eight clean sheets in twelve matches, and that's been a huge factor in Midtjylland's run to the top of the table.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
FC Midtjylland (4-1-4-1): Mikkel Andersen; Kristian Bach Bak, Erik Sviatchenko, Jim Larsen, Filip Novak; Tim Sparv; Pione Sisto, Petter Andersson, Jakob Poulsen, Daniel Royer; Martin Pusic
Napoli (4-3-3): Pepe Reina; Christian Maggio, Vlad Chiriches, Kalidou Koulibaly, Faouzi Ghoulam; Allan, Jorginho, Marek Hamsik; Jose Callejon, Gonzalo Higuain, Manolo Gabbiadini
At A Glance
FC Midtjylland: 1st in Danish Superligaen; 8 W 3 D 1 L; League Form: WWWLD
Napoli: 4th in Serie A; 4 W 3 D 1 L; League Form: WWWDW
TV: Sky Calcio 1, Sky Sport 1 HD Italia (Italy), Canal 9 (Denmark)
Online: Fox Soccer 2 Go (U.S.), beIN Sports Connect (Canada), BT Sport Live Streaming (U.K.)
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, and we'll have updates of the most important events on our Facebook page, which you should definitely like.