There’s 90 minutes left to play for Napoli in the Champions League playoff round against OGC Nice, and with a 2-0 aggregate lead in hand heading to France, Napoli have the advantage — but they can still ill afford any kind of slipups.
Napoli absolutely dominated the first leg in Naples last week, but didn’t do enough to put their opponents away, wasting a multitude of scoring chances and failing to take advantage of Nice going down to nine men late in the second half. But if Napoli can keep up the same quality of play that they showed last week, then again in a 3-1 win over Hellas Verona on Saturday, they should be able to win this game.
Nice will be without both Vincent Koziello and Alassane Plea, who were both sent off last week after good performances earlier in the match. That’s going to be a big blow to Nice’s chances, though manager Lucien Favre hopes to have Mario Balotelli and Wesley Sneijder available after the talented duo missed out last week. Both played in Nice’s 2-0 win over Guingamp over the weekend, but with their lack of match fitness it could be tough for both to play to the level they need to again so soon.
Then there’s the question of Jean Micheal Seri, whose head is supposedly very turned by Barcelona after rumors emerged over the weekend that the Spanish club was prepared to pay his release clause to help reinforce their beleaguered team. Favre wants Seri’s full attention on this match, though he was uninspiring on the pitch this weekend.
Napoli, meanwhile, have one minor injury concern with Dries Mertens, who picked up a foot injury against Hellas Verona and had some swelling problems because of it. Maurizio Sarri dismissed fears that he would miss out, though, refusing to call him doubtful during his pre-match press conference on Monday. Otherwise, Napoli are at full health, and hopefully completely prepared for a tricky match away from home and outside of Italy — and Napoli have not always done well away from Italian shores over the last few years.
Hopefully all the lingering concerns over not having a large enough lead and not doing enough against an opponent they should beat wind up being unfounded and Napoli capitalize on the kind of dominance they’re capable of. They need this win in a bad way, and it’s time for Napoli to show just how good they can be.
Match info, plus how to watch on TV and stream
Match Date/Time: Tuesday, 2:45 p.m. ET, 8:45 p.m. local
Venue: Allianz Riviera, Nice, France
TV: Fox Sports 1 (U.S. - English), ESPN Deportes (U.S. - Spanish), PremiumSport HD, RSI La 2 (Italy), beIN Sports 1 (France), BT Sport 2 (U.K.)
Online: Fox Soccer Match Pass, Fox Sports Go, ESPN3, WatchESPN (U.S.), Premium Play (Italy), beIN Sports Connect (France), BT Sport Live Streaming (U.K.)
Listings for more countries can be found at LiveSoccerTV.