The Champions League draw is done, with Napoli finding themselves in Group B of the most prestigious international club competition around. Their draw isn't the toughest in the group stage, but they still find themselves in a group that will be tricky to navigate, drawn against Benfica, Dynamo Kyiv, and Besiktas, all three the defending champions of their respective leagues.
It's definitely a group that Napoli can win, but with three tough away matches between travel and environment, neither winning the group nor advancing out of it are guaranteed. Napoli will have to be focused and playing at their best in order to make sure to get the most out of this group, which is perhaps the most evenly-built of the whole group stage.
Benfica are the defending Portuguese champions, and given Napoli's struggles against Porto in the Europa League and on the Iberian Peninsula in general over the last few years, few fans will be looking forward to the away trip this matchup will bring. They are, though, a team that Napoli can beat in terms of a comparison of talent, and given the memorable Europa League tie between these two teams in 2008, their matches could be the ones to watch in the group.
Dynamo Kyiv being drawn into Group B drew a lot of groans from Napoli fans, who have unfortunate memories of their last venture against a Ukrainian team in European competition. They were knocked out of the Europa League semifinals by Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk two years ago, a fate they'd rather avoid at the hands of Dynamo this time around. Dynamo might actually be the weakest side in the group, but they're no pushover by any means -- Napoli can't just roll out reserves and hope for the best.
Potentially the most problematic team of the group will be Turkish outfit Besiktas. A tough team who were aggressive on the transfer market this summer, the defending Turkish champions won't roll over for any foe. Napoli fans may feel buoyed by the 4-0 win on Turkish soil they enjoyed over Trabzonspor two years ago in the Europa League, but Besiktas are a much different, and much tougher, foe to deal with.
This won't be an easy group by any means, but that doesn't mean that Napoli are doomed to failure. While there is no "marquee" matchup with a traditional power to look forward to, that should actually boost their chances of advancing out of the group by a fair ways, though the overall balance of the four teams still leaves that a tricky proposition. The margins of error are slim, but with Napoli likely being the most talented side of the four, that gives them a healthy leg up.
Napoli can win this group, and they should advance out of it. It won't be easy, but what things in life worth doing ever are? Regardless, Napoli are back in the Champions League, and now that they know who they're facing, it's time to get to work.