The 2017/18 UEFA Champions League qualifying phase has reached the last chance saloon and teams know they have just one match remaining to claim their place in the lucrative group stages of the competition. One of the standout ties from the playoff draw saw Italian team Napoli paired with French side Nice. The Ligue 1 team have never played in the group stages of the Champions League in their history, so this is an opportunity to embark on a new era for the club.
Napoli have great experience of playing in the Champions League and will be hoping to use that in this game and secure their place in the group stages.
Nice have played 6 competitive matches this season but have picked up just a single victory which came at home to Guingamp in Ligue 1 on the weekend.
Despite progressing to the playoff round of the Champions League, Nice did not beat Ajax in either leg of the third-round qualifying tie. Both legs ended in a draw, with Nice progressing thanks to the away goals rule.
Domestically Nice started poorly and lost to Saint-Etienne away from home on the opening weekend of the Ligue 1 season and were defeated 2-1 at home by Troyes, which was a disappointing result.
The first leg of this tie ended 2-0 to Napoli in Italy and leaves them in control of the tie. Goals from Dries Mertens in the first half and Jorginho in the second half were enough to seal the victory and the all-important clean sheet.
That was Napoli’s first competitive game of the new season and they followed up with a 3-1 win at Hellas Verona in Serie on the weekend.
Napoli registered 18 attempts on goal in the first leg of this tie and were much the better team, deserving their 2-0 win. Nice managed 5 shots throughout the whole 90 minutes, not one of which was on target.
Napoli have scored in each of their last 7 away Champions League games.
Nice are without the suspended duo of Vincent Koziello and Alassane Plea and the injured Wylan Cyprien. They are expected to start in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Mario Balotelli and Wesley Sneijder set to play.
Napoli have a clean bill of health for this game and without any suspensions should be able to field their strongest team. That means a 4-3-3 formation with Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon in attack.
Top Betting Tips
Nice must attack in this game as they need to overturn a 2-0 deficit and should find the back of the net at least once. However, Napoli have the players to hit then on the break whenever possible and enjoy scoring away from home in the Champions League. Both teams to score is 4/7 with William Hill.
With 9 of Napoli’s 12 away Champions League games seeing over 2.5 goals, we should be in for a very entertaining night at the Allianz Riviera. Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals is Evens at Ladbrokes.
Dries Mertens opened his account in the first leg of this tie and should come back in to the starting XI for this match having been on the bench on the weekend. The Belgian was excellent in-front of goal last season and can be backed at Evens with Ladbrokes to score at any time.