On Match 7th we will have a chance to see the Serie A side hosting Austrian Bundesliga team Red Bull Salzburg in one of the most anticipated fixtures of 1/8 finals in Europa League. The match will take place on Stadio San Paolo, the home of Gli Azzurri.
Napoli are coming into this match as the 2nd team in Serie A, where they sit with a 17-5-4 record and 56 points. Their overall performance in the domestic league has been good, but not good enough to catch up to Juventus who after defeating Napoli on March 3rd ran away with a 16 points lead on the leaderboards. Looking back at the match against Juventus, Napoli were a better side, but due to the red card they received only 25 minutes into the match, Napoli struggled to defend against Juventus who managed to score twice before the 1st half ended. Only 2 minutes into the 2nd half Juventus were also given a red card, which gave Napoli a fighting chance, however, they did not manage to penetrate Juventus defence for the second time, thus losing with a goal margin. The mentioned defeat was the first one for Napoli at Stadio San Paolo in this season. As far as their Europa League campaign goes, Napoli managed to advance through the 1/16 finals without many problems. Napoli were paired with Swiss team Zurich, who had a hard time dealing with Italian side which defeated them with a 5:1 aggregate score. While they had an easy time against Zurich, Napoli will have to prove their worth against potent attacking team Red Bull Salzburg, who have been exceptional in their domestic league as well as in the Europa League campaign.
Salzburg Red Bull come into the 1/8 finals of Europa League after an impressive performance against Club Brugge KV who they knocked out of 1/16 finals with an aggregate score of 5:2. While Salzburg failed to perform in the first leg (2:1), the return fixture was a completely different story. In Austria, Salzburg charged Club Brugge KV with no mercy and ended the match with a high 4:0 win. Not only have Salzburg been performing well in Europa League, but their domestic league performances have been exceptional as well. As it stands now, Salzburg are comfortably sitting at the top of Tipico Bundesliga with an overall record of 16-3-1 and 51 points, 9 ahead of LASK Linz. Much of their success this season is due to their impressive offence who has scored 49 goals in 20 league matches. Furthermore, Red Bull Salzburg scored 17 goals in the group stages of the Europa League. But at the end of the day, their impressive run will get put to a test when they visit Napoli at Stadio San Paolo where Napoli lost only 1 match in the whole season, in all competitions.
Napoli come into this match as a favourite, which should not come off as a surprise. Stadio San Paolo has been a fortress for them throughout the season, where they only lost once, and even then it was mostly due to a red card they received against Juventus. Red Bull Salzburg on the other side have been doing really good in their domestic league as well as Europa League campaign, but the question remains; are they good enough to withstand Napoli at their home ground? Prior to their trip to Italy, there is a reason for concern for Red Bull Salzburg. With 2 defeats in the last 3 away games, the Austrian side does not come off as good travellers, but they will hope to get a chance to utilize their attack to upset Napoli. Taking all into consideration, this should prove to be a highly entertaining match with two strong offensive teams on the same pitch. While I do believe Napoli has an edge to win this one, Salzburg can be deadly if given a chance. All things point towards a match that should end in plenty of scoring opportunities and ultimately goals.
Prediction: Over 2.50 goals
Odds: 1.70 Matchbook