The first leg of this tie didn't exactly go to plan, with Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk stealing an equalizer and away goal thanks to a horrendous and awful refereeing decision. That coupled with a resolute defensive performance mean that Napoli go in to the second and away leg of this Europa League semifinal tie at a disadvantage, and that's not the position we wanted them to be in.
Let's try to do better this time, eh Napoli? There's a place like Warsaw at stake. Try to act like it.
Spoiling for an upset
Dnipro definitely won't be trying to make things easy. Napoli can't expect their foes to sit back and absorb pressure again the way they did in the first leg, as the Ukrainians will be needing to make things exciting early and get the crowd in to the match. Dnipro are one of the Ukrainian teams that have been forced to play their European matches in the capitol of Kyiv this season, so they may not enjoy the full home field advantage -- unless they get an early lead, and once that crowd gets going, Napoli will be in a heap of trouble.
Dnipro's confidence is high right now after that first leg performance, and despite their restrained style a week ago, they have the ability and skill to come out and punch Napoli in the teeth. They hid that for most of the match, but it's no coincidence that almost as soon as they brought in more of their regular attackers, they scored that goal, bad offsides call or no. They cannot be taken lightly, and if Napoli do so at all -- well, this could be thoroughly unpleasant.
A chance to grasp at glory
Napoli have a chance to go to their first European final since 1989 -- no, the Intertoto Cup doesn't count, even if winning that was fairly nifty -- and with this squad after this season, it's something they absolutely must do. This Napoli squad has so much talent in it, so much skill, so much pure ability to do great things, these players have to find a way to take something to remember from it, a real, major trophy, not just a glamour supercup title that virutally no one outside of Italy cares much about.
Napoli have to come out strong, they have to come out fast, they have to come out looking to score goals early and often. They can't afford to wait to grow in to the match, because Dnipro won't let them do that. They need to take the same gameplan they went to Trabzonspor and Dynamo Moscow and Wolfsburg with on the road and score a ton of goals fast and early, because if they give Dnipro any chance or any opening, they will regret it. Put this away early, Napoli, or we'll be looking at this is a disappointing and wasted season. Please, please, please don't put the fans through that.
Projected Lineups Sure To Be Wrong
Dnipro: Boyko; Fedetskiy, Douglas, Cheberyachko, Léo Matos; Kankava, Rotan, Fedorchuk, Matheus, Konoplyanka; Kalinić
Napoli: Andújar; Maggio, Albiol, Britos, Ghoulam; Inler, López; Callejón, Hamšík, Gabbiadini; Higuaín
At A Glance
Dnipro: 3rd; 15W 5D 3L; League Form: LWWWD
Napoli: 4th; 17W 9D 9L; League Form: DWLWW
TV: Fox Soccer Plus (U.S.), Premium Calcio/HD (Italy), 2+2 (Ukraine), ITV 1/4 (U.K.), Sportsnet regional networks (Canada)
Online: Fox Soccer 2Go, ESPN3 (U.S.), Premium Play (Italy), Sportsnet World Now (Canada)
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