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Napoli vs Leicester City: Europa League Preview, H2H & Predicted Line-ups

Dominoes have fallen into place for a blockbuster end to Europa League Group C as Napoli tackle Leicester City in a mouth-watering clash.

With a mere two points separating the bottom from the top ahead of the final matchday, two of the competition’s favourites have everything to play for at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium. 

Despite heading into proceedings as Group C pacesetters, Leicester can ill-afford to rest on their laurels, as anything other than a loss would pedal them into the Europa League knock-outs.

But Brendan Rodgers’ men are not enjoying the best of times.

Last weekend’s 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa means the Foxes have conceded at least twice in three consecutive matches across all competitions, further underlining their lacklustre form.

While a draw would be enough to ensure Europa League football come the spring of 2022, a victory would see them advance to the competition’s knock-outs as group winners, regardless of the other encounter.

Meanwhile, an underwhelming 2-1 defeat at Spartak Moscow in the previous Europa League round puts Napoli in an awkward position ahead of the Group C finale. 

Sat third in the standings, the Partenopei have to pick up all three points here if they don’t look to rely on results elsewhere, especially given that could fire them to a top-placed finish.

Napoli vs Leicester City Head-to-Head

Although Ayoze Perez and Harvey Barnes gave Leicester what looked like a comfortable two-goal cushion in the reverse fixture, Napoli bounced back to eke out a 2-2 draw at the King Power Stadium.

Victor Osimhen, who notched up a late brace in the East Midlands, won’t be there to dig the Italians out of possible trouble this time around following a nasty facial injury. 

While this will be Leicester’s first UEFA-sanctioned visit to Italy, Napoli have plenty of fond memories about their previous home meetings with English clubs. 

The Serie A giants have racked up six wins in their ten European home matches against Premier League visitors (D2, L2), including a 2-0 beating of Liverpool in their most recent such match-up in September 2019.

Napoli Preview

Napoli have followed up a run of nine wins from ten Europa League group stage home fixtures with an indifferent return of two triumphs from their last five such contests (D1, L2). 

Diego Armando Maradona Stadium has been a venue of entertainment this season – despite Napoli’s topsy-turvy fortunes (W1, L1) – with both of their Europa League games here seeing 3+ goals and both teams scoring.

However, Luciano Spalletti’s men will take the field amid a rough patch, as evidenced by their paltry return of one win from their last six outings in all competitions (D2, L3). 

In the absence of Osimhen, Spalletti will turn to the club’s long-serving stalwart Dries Mertens to shoulder the scoring burden on Thursday.

The Belgian forward has hit a purple patch while filling in for the Nigerian star, notably scoring in his last four Serie A appearances on the trot. 

Leicester City Preview

Except for a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat at Legia in late September, Leicester have gone unbeaten in their remaining four Europa League games this term (W2, D2). 

The Midlanders’ defensive frailties may force Rodgers to take a cautious approach against the fourth most prolific Serie A side this season. 

The Foxes have failed to keep a clean sheet across their five Europa League matches, which has been the case in ten of their 11 competitive travels this season, including the last seven in a row.

Leicester came from behind to beat Spartak Moscow 4-3 in their most recent Europa League road trip and could win back-to-back European away fixtures for the first time in history. 

Patson Daka has soaked up the limelight as his side’s headline performer in the Europa League this season, clocking up five goals from his last two appearances in the competition.

Given Jamie Vardy’s dip in form, it will likely be up to the ex-RB Salzburg forward to carry his side’s attacking charge in Naples.

Napoli vs Leicester City Predicted Line-ups

Napoli (3-4-3): David Ospina; Juan Jesus, Amir Rrahmani, Giovanni Di Lorenzo; Kelvin Malcuit, Stanislav Lobotka, Piotr Zielinski, Mario Rui; Hirving Lozano, Eljif Elmas, Dries Mertens.

Leicester City (4-2-3-1): Kasper Schmeichel; Timothy Castagne, Jonny Evans, Caglar Soyuncu, Luke Thomas; Wilfred Ndidi, Boubakary Soumare; Patson Daka, James Maddison, Harvey Barnes; Jamie Vardy.

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