With a 2-0 victory over Werder Bremen over the weekend, Eintracht Frankfurt maintained its lead over the top four teams in the Bundesliga. Oliver Glasner was allowed to rest some important players for this match because the damage had already been done after an hour. The holders of the Europa League may be anticipating a great start to this two-legged match, however, with just four losses in their last 30 home matches in Europe (W17, D9, L4).
Frankfurt has a fair record against Italian opponents on the European level (W6, D3, L2), and they have advanced from seven out of ten two-legged knockout matches, which supports their strong home form. The most recent of those occurred in 2018–19, when Frankfurt defeated Inter Milan by a score of 1-0 over the course of two legs.
With Napoli participating, such a low-scoring match is practically unimaginable. The Italians will enter this match with utmost confidence following a run of three straight victories, two of which were by margins of two goals or more, giving them a 15-point lead over the next team in Serie A. That came after an almost flawless group stage performance in this competition (W5, L1), and given that they were the top-scoring team in the Champions League group stage (G20), both short- and medium-term form points to another potent offensive performance.
In their last 20 outings in Europe’s top tournament, Napoli had only suffered three defeats (W10, D7, L3); this gave them hope that they would reach the semifinals for the first time. A Napoli victory here would go down in history as only their second on German territory at the tenth attempt, despite their hot form and warm favoritism (W1, D3, L5).
With his goal on Saturday, Frankfurt’s Forward Kolo Muani became one of only three players in Europe’s top five divisions to have double digits in both goals and assists, joining Lionel Messi and Neymar (G10, A10).
Beware of the dangerous Napoli combination of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (G10) and Victor Osimhen (G18), who have combined for half of their team’s SA-high total of 56 goals! Both teams have scored in each of Napoli’s past six Champions League round of 16 games (W1, D1, L4).
Oliver Glasner could make at least a few changes on Tuesday night despite his team’s victory over Werder at the weekend, and he has practically the entire squad available for selection.
There are no further fitness issues for Frankfurt, who will likely start Hrvoje Smolcic and Aurelio Buta against Napoli despite the continued absence of Eric Dina Ebimbe due to an ankle injury. Smolcic is one of three players—along with his countryman Kristijan Jakic and midfielder Makoto Hasebe—who might be suspended for the second game if they receive a booking.
Randal Kolo Muani begins in the front position once more. The French forward has scored in both of his most recent outings in the Champions League and also had 10 goals and 10 assists in his first season in the Bundesliga.
Victor Osimhen, who has now scored in seven straight Serie A games, is similarly well-stocked for the visitors as Luciano Spalletti quickly allayed any concerns when the in-form striker hobbled off in Friday’s victory at Sassuolo.
Giacomo Raspadori, who performed admirably in the group stage, is unable to play due to a muscular injury, thus Hirving Lozano and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia should flank Osimhen. During Napoli’s Group A campaign, the latter provided two goals and an assist in the same game. He poses a serious threat from the left.
Piotr Zielinski is anticipated to start in midfield in lieu of Eljif Elmas, and Mario Rui and Mathias Olivera are vying to start at left back.
Possible starting lineup for Eintracht Frankfurt includes Trapp, Smolcic, N’Dicka, Tuta, Buta, Kamada, Sow, Max, Lindstrom, Gotze, and Kolo Muani.
Meret, Di Lorenzo, Kim, Rrahmani, Rui, Lobotka, Anguissa, Zielinski, Lozano, Osimhen, and Kvaratskhelia might all make the Napoli starting lineup.
We predict: Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Napoli
Before this match, which brings together two Champions League outsiders looking to threaten Europe’s established order, both teams are brimming with confidence. Despite Napoli’s strength, Frankfurt could yet manage a hard-fought draw if they can take the lead. This season, they have won 11 times and drawn twice when in the lead in the league.