Napoli took a pretty good run at finishing this Europa League quarterfinal tie off early, winning the first leg by a commanding 4-1 margin in Germany. With a berth in the semifinals in sight, Napoli only need to do a little bit more to secure their place in the next round. Can they hold off a late charge from Wolfsburg with Diego Maradona in the house?
Hoping For A Miracle
Down three goals and needing four to offset Napoli's away goals tiebreaker, Wolfsburg are staring down the barrel of Europa League elimination. Dieter Hecking seems optimistic that his side has a chance, but their task is an extraordinarily difficult one, especially on the road.
The task is further complicated by the absence of attacking stars Kevin De Bruyne and Andre Schürrle, and further compounded by Vieirinha falling ill and being extremely unlikely to play. That's three key players down and not a ton of depth at two of their positions, making it hard to adjust to the voids they leave, especially without De Bruyne's sheer creative skill.
No Rest For The Wicked
Napoli have a commanding lead, yes, but it's not an utterly unassailable one. All it would take is one Very Good Day for Wolfsburg -- something Bayern Munich can testify for the potential of -- and suddenly it would be Napoli getting eliminated instead. The vesuviani will have to maintain their focus and determination, showing the same form they've had for the last two weeks in order to guarantee their advancement to the semifinals.
They'll have to do the job without Christian Maggio, who apparently fell ill and was left out of the squad, along with the still-injured pair of Camilo Zuniga and Jonathan De Guzman. Don't be surprised if one of Marek Hamsik or Gonzalo Higuain are left on the bench to start in order to rest, with Hamsik more likely to start given the other players available in the attacking midfield band and Duvan Zapata being in need of playing time.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Napoli: Andujar; Henrique, Albiol, Britos, Ghoulam; Lopez, Inler; Callejon, Hamsik, Mertens; Zapata
Wolfsburg: Benaglio; Träsch, Knoche, Naldo, Rodriguez; Guilavogui, Gustavo; Caliguri, Arnold, Perišić; Dost
When last we met: Wolfsburg 1-4 Napoli
Sure, this was just a week ago, but who doesn't want to relive a match that good? Napoli came out swinging, landed some early punches, and kept right on hitting until Wolfsburg stopped twitching. Marek Hamsik scored a brace in a man of the match performance, and both Gonzalo Higuain and Manolo Gabbiadini scored goals of their own en route to a dominant 4-1 road win in Germany. The full recap is here for your enjoyment.
TV: Fox Soccer 2 (U.S.), Sportsnet regional networks (Canada), Premium Calcio HD 2, Premium Calcio 1 (Italy), Sky Sport 1/HD (Germany), BT Sport 1 (U.K.)
Online: Fox Soccer 2GO (U.S.), Sportsnet World Now (Canada), Premium Play (Italy), Sky Go Deutschland (Germany)
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.