Preview: Leicester City vs Napoli – prediction, team news, lineups
Kicking off their Europa League campaign by hosting Italian giant Napoli on Thursday, Leicester City will face one of their favorite teammates to lift the trophy next spring. Leicester City vs Napoli Pawastreams, Leicester City vs Napoli live stream, Leicester City vs Napoli today, Leicester City vs Napoli channel, Leicester City vs Napoli where to watch, Leicester City vs Napoli tv USA, Leicester City vs Napoli prediction.
While the Foxes enter the game following a loss to English champion Manchester City, their Neapolitan visitors were able to beat their old rivals Juventus with a late goal that retains their perfect Serie A record.
Leicester City vs Napoli Match preview
Despite their disappointment at narrowly missing the continent’s main competition for the second season in a row, Leicester finished last season fifth in the Premier League, enough to earn them direct entry to the Europa League group stage.
While the FA Cup winners came out of last season’s tournament in the last 32, losing 2-0 on aggregate to Slavia Prague, it remained their best result in the UEFA Cup or Europa League.
Getting over that this fall will be no small feat, though, as after the Foxes begin their Group C challenge at King Power Stadium this week, they will face Polish champion Legia Warsaw and then face Spartak Moscow on the 10th. October.
In the run-up to their first encounter with Italian opponents in a UEFA competition, the team led by Brendan Rodgers have seen a bumpy start to the new league season, having won and lost twice so far and sit ninth in the early season table.
Although Leicester took over the newly promoted Norwich City just before the international break, they were outscored by Bernardo Silva’s goal for Manchester City in an entertaining game at the weekend, as former City goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel did well to avoid a greater margin of defeat.
The Great Dane may be called up again in the middle of the week, as Rodgers and his company now face one of the most consistent striking forces on the continent.
Goals from Matteo Politano and star center-back Kalidou Koulibaly gave Napoli a lovely 2-1 victory over hated rivals Juventus at the weekend, and they continued their good form under new coach Luciano Spalletti.
Koulibaly’s goal in the 85th minute sealed a comeback for the Azzurri and helped them to third in the starting Serie A standings, giving them a huge boost before their return to the Europa League, after a disappointing outing last season.
Like Leicester, Partenopei topped their group but were eliminated in the last 32 and by the way, both clubs finished fifth in their national leagues after missing out on Champions League qualification on the final matchday.
Knocked out by debutant Granada in Europe last spring, an overall result that perhaps marked the beginning of the end for their former coach Gennaro Gattuso, the Neapolitan giants intend to go much further this time, in keeping with their proud European history.
In the European second-tier club competition, they have progressed as group winners in each of their last three appearances, including in 2015-16 when they won all six matches and set a record for the most goals scored in a league group. Europa League (22).
In total, they are undefeated in their last seven Europa League group stage away games, winning five in a row before drawing 1-1 at AZ on matchday five of 2020.
And Napoli’s pedigree at this level is confirmed by their status as one of the five clubs involved this year who lifted the trophy in their former UEFA Cup guise, in a Diego Maradona-inspired run to glory in 1989.
Before Thursday’s game, Napoli hopes to be without captain Lorenzo Insigne, who was forced to retire in the second half against Juventus. The Italian striker limped off the pitch after receiving a set-piece, as he had started the game with a knee injury.
His international teammate, goalkeeper Alex Meret, was sent home from the Italian camp after suffering a back injury and remains out of the game this week. Therefore, former Arsenal stopper David Ospina will start.
Luciano Spalletti also has Stanislav Lobotka out with a muscle injury and Diego Demme is also absent. In the midfield department, then, new acquisition Andre-Frank Anguissa, who made a successful debut on Saturday, could join Fabian Ruiz and Eljif Elmas.
In addition, record-breaking scorer Dries Mertens and full-back Faouzi Ghoulam also remain offside, but Piotr Zielinski is now available.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers has several selection headaches to resolve himself as Ricardo Pereira was only fit enough to be an unused substitute on the weekend and therefore Timothy Castagne may be ready to go.
Center-back Jannik Vestergaard continues to recover his top form, but after completing an hour against Manchester City he could get the go-ahead once again, while Filip Benkovic has signed up for the Europa League squad and may be involved at some point.
There have been calls for Rodgers to knock out playmaker James Maddison after a 15-game streak without a goal or assist, so Patson Daka or Kelechi Iheanacho, who have impressed in their limited time this season, can start on offense.
Leicester City possible starting lineup:
Schmeichel; Castagne, Vestergaard, Soyuncu, Bertrand; Albrighton, Tielemans, Ndidi, Barnes; Daka, Vardy
Napoli possible starting lineup:
Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Rui; Anguissa, Elmas, Ruiz; Politano, Osimhen, Lozano