NAPOLI hold all the cards in this Europa League quarter-final tie. Can Wolfsburg turn the tables on the Italians on Thursday night? Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) takes a look at the best bets on offer.
Napoli v Wolfsburg | Thursday 20.05 | BT Sport 1
Hands up, who had the Wolfsburg 1-4 Napoli correct score? Didn’t think so. Did anyone back the Italians to even win? Unlikely. The trouncing Rafa Benitez’s men handed out to their German counterparts sent shockwaves across the European football scene.
Plenty of aftertimers turned up on Twitter to saviour the moment and even a few well-liked faces in the media turned out to have a dig at Dieter Hecking’s team. The Wolves have been a thing of beauty this season but unluckily for them, they chose to have their off-night in front of the TV cameras and just four games from a first European final.
If you were expecting a reaction from Hecking’s men on Sunday, you would also have been disappointed. Despite out-shooting Schalke 25-7, they failed to find their rhythm, looked fatigued and rarely caused the Royal Blues major scares as the game ended 1-1.
No worries though, Champions League qualification is already assured and with a comeback far from likely (33/1 to qualify with Paddy Power) attention has turned instead to their DFB Pokal semi-final in a fortnight.
The gung-ho Germans travel to Naples needing at least a three-goal victory to stand a chance and so Hecking may opt to rest his players with this tie all but over. But the visitors will be out a number of key performers; starlet Kevin De Bruyne has been ruled out along with Andre Schurrle whilst Luiz Gustavo and Vieirinha are both struggling with knocks.
So whilst Wolfsburg’s record of scoring in 23 of their previous 25 games looks well worth further inspection, I’m not going to entertain a goals option with those absentees. In fact, Napoli look the best bet on this occasion at a rather meaty 5/4 with BetVictor to complete their passage to the final four with a win.
The Partenopei were ruthless at the Volkswagen Arena and Benitez’s boys followed up that 4-1 win with a 3-0 success at Cagliari last weekend. Marek Hamsik was the architect yet again and with the adoring San Paolo support behind them, Napoli look well placed to make it four wins on the spin.
Miguel Britos, Gokhan Inler and Dries Mertens were all rested at the weekend and should take their place in the starting XI as the hosts chase a 10th continental success on home soil in an unbeaten 12-game streak. All five previous Europa League matches at the San Paolo have ended in Napoli wins and there’s even previous to suggest the Partenopei won’t shut up shop on Thursday night.
In the Round of 16, Benitez’s team romped to a 4-0 success in Trabzonspor and whilst the Turks aren’t close to Wolfsburg’s level, Napoli completed the job with a routine 1-0 win back in Naples. A similar story wouldn’t be a surprise this week.
Napoli v Wolfsburg – Napoli to win (5/4 BetVictor)
Can Wolfsburg turn this tie around? Could the Germans save face with a second leg win?
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