Napoli vs Benfica
UEFA Champions League – Group B
Date: Wednesday, 28th September, 2016
Kick-off: 19:45 UK.
Venue: Stadio San Paolo, Naples.
A lot of Napoli fans thought their team would struggle after losing star striker Gonzalo Higuain to rivals Juventus in the summer, but they have done anything but. They started the campaign with a 2-2 draw at Pescara, but since then they have won five and drawn one of their six matches in all competitions.
Their only other failure to win was a goalless draw at Genoa, but their record of 16 goals in their seven games so far suggests that the absence of Higuain hasn’t actually affected them too much at all. New signing Arkadiusz Milk has managed six goals so far, so he seems like a very worthy replacement for the Argentine.
Two of these goals came in Napoli’s Champions League opener as they beat Dynamo Kiev 2-1 away from home, despite going a goal down. This puts them at the top of their group, and a win here would see them take a big step towards qualification for the knockout phase.
Benfica could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Besiktas in their opening game of the Champions League group stage, but other than that, they have enjoyed a more than decent start to the season.
They opened it with a 3-0 win over Sporting Braga in the Potuguese Super Cup, and since then they have won five and drawn two of their seven games. This puts them top of the Portuguese Primeira Liga with a point advantage over Sporting CP.
However, Napoli will be a much tougher test than anything else they have faced this season. The Italians are in excellent form and have won all of their home matches so far this season. Looking back into last season, Napoli have won nine competitive matches on the bounce at home, scoring an impressive 30 goals and seeing at least three goals scored in eight of them.
This fantastic scoring record indicates that this could be a high scoring affair on Wednesday, especially with Benfica’s attacking credentials as well. Napoli are just too strong for the visitors in my eyes though, so odds of 11/8 for a Napoli Win and Over 2.5 Goals look excellent value to me. I’m going for a 3-1 correct score prediction at 11/1 as well.
Head To Head
Napoli have won two and lost one of their three matches against Benfica.
Napoli have won 100% of their last nine home matches in competitive football, with 89% of them also having at least three goals scored in them.
Defender Vlad Chiriches and midfielder Omar El Kaddouri are both expected to miss out.
Centre back Jardel, midfielder Andreas Samaris, winger Rafa Silva, and striker Jonas are all injured for Benfica.