Napoli easily defeated Atalanta their most recent time out to widen their lead at the top to a commanding 18 points after suffering just their second loss in Serie A. The Partenopei may now focus on making history by making it to the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League (UCL), as a first Scudetto since 1990 now appears to be a formality.
Napoli has lost just one home game by a three-goal margin since 2013, but a commanding 2-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg has Luciano Spalletti’s team comfortably in the driver’s seat heading into the return match. With no team having defeated them at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in this competition since 2017, Spalletti stated that “we aim to reach the stars” in what may be a historic season (W8, D3).
In the midst of a four-game losing streak (D2, L2), Frankfurt embarks on one of the toughest trips in Europe. The Eagles’ most recent defeat came in a 1-1 draw against relegation-threatened Stuttgart. With their success against Italian teams on the European level and the coach Oliver Glasner’s belief that his team is “capable of spectacular achievements,” it is possible that they may pull another rabbit out of the hat (W5, D2, L3).
Two of the German team’s three group stage victories came on the road, but given that they have the fewest goals scored (GF: 7) of any remaining teams, coming back from a two-goal deficit seems unlikely. The fact that Frankfurt hasn’t won on the road since November (D4, L2) gives Glasner’s team a tremendous uphill battle in Naples.
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has improved this season, averaging a direct goal contribution per game after scoring a “Maradona-like goal” against Atalanta (G13, A15). Frankfurt shot-stopper Kevin Trapp, who has only seen two keepers still in the UCL make more saves than his 22, will attempt to keep him out.
Left-back Mario Rui, who served a two-match domestic suspension after getting sent off against his previous team Empoli, will be available to Luciano Spalletti once more on Wednesday and should take Mathias Olivera’s spot in Napoli’s back four.
The hosts also anticipate the return of starting goalkeeper Alex Meret, who withdrew after the pregame warmup following last week’s victory over Atalanta.
Hirving Lozano may recover from his muscular ailment in time to join the bench, while Kim Min-jae is expected to recover from a knock as well. Giacomo Raspadori is remains out with a thigh injury.
Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, who has contributed four assists in the Champions League this season, the most ever for Napoli in a single campaign, is ably supporting capocannoniere leader Victor Osimhen up front. In addition, with 12 shots and four chances created, he has produced the most scoring opportunities (16) of any player in the competition following a ball carry.
Eric Junior Dina Ebimbe and Danish attacker Jesper Lindstrom will both be out due to injury, leaving Frankfurt without suspended striker Randal Kolo Muani in Naples.
Daichi Kamada is still available to Oliver Glasner, and the Japan international is the club’s all-time leading scorer in European competition with 14 goals in 36 games. He will join an offensive trio anchored by Rafael Santos Borre.
Borre only scored three goals in all competitions this season, although he was instrumental in the team’s victory in the Europa League the year before.
Meret, Di Lorenzo, Kim, Rrahmani, Rui, Anguissa, Lobotka, Zielinski, Politano, Osimhen, and Kvaratskhelia might be Napoli’s starting lineup.
Possible starting lineup for Eintracht Frankfurt includes Trapp, Tuta, Hasebe, Ndicka, Buta, Sow, Rode, Max, Kamada, Gotze, and Borre.
We predict: Napoli vs Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 (Napoli win 3-1 on aggregate)
Under Oliver Glasner, Eintracht has amassed a strong European record and is not hesitant to seize the initiative away from home, but they are currently facing one of their toughest tests of the season. Because of Napoli’s exceptional track record at Stadio Maradona, the home team can guarantee a spot in the quarterfinal draw even if they don’t play at their best.