Europa League Group F final standings will go down to the wire on Thursday evening as group leaders Napoli welcome La Liga high-flyers Real Sociedad at their newly renamed Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in Naples.
The status quo in this group was maintained on the last Europa League matchday as both games ended in draws leaving Napoli top of the table with 10 points on the board, two above both Real Sociedad and AZ Alkmaar. This, therefore, means that there is everything to play for in this match as Napoli still need at least a point to guarantee safe passage to the next round.
When these two sides last met in their first-ever match at the end of October in San Sebastian, Napoli, despite being second best for most of the game, stole all three points on offer thanks to a Matteo Politano deflected effort.
Since then Gattuso’s charges have steadily grown in confidence. They have won five of their last seven matches in all competitions the last of which was a morale-boosting 4-0 win over Crotone in the Serie A on Sunday.
La Real’s sizzling start to the season appears to have cooled off a bit coming into this match. They are winless in their last 4 games – all of them draws, the most bitter of which was the 2-2 home draw against Rijeka who are bottom of the group and have already been eliminated from the next round, despite enjoying a massive 75% possession in the game.
Despite these last four draws, the team from the Basque country have actually been on a great run. They are a credible second in La Liga 12 games in. That loss to Napoli in the reverse game remains their only loss in their last 13 competitive games. Disregarding these momentum-stopping draws, that loss came in between 8 wins.
Coach Imanol Alguacil is confident his charges can deliver this time what they failed to deliver at home – a win.
Both teams come into this game with the knowledge that a loss could signal the end of their European football adventure. AZ Alkmaar is breathing down their necks having travelled to Croatia looking to get three points against the bottom team Rijeka. We, therefore, expect a closely contested game. Sociedad needs a win to qualify but with the injuries to key players like captain Mikel Oyarzabal and David Silva, they do not much of an offensive punch. Napoli will likely sit back and soak in anything they throw at them and then try to hit them on the counter. As such we do not foresee lots of goals in this match and we are backing Under 2.5 @ 2.04 with Odibets as our first betting tip.
The stakes here are much higher than they were in that first leg. Everything is on the line for both teams and that will show in the level of competitiveness and physicality we are likely to witness in this game. The cards market is of great interest in games with these kinds of settings. We quite fancy the Over 4.5 bookings option priced @ 1.69 at Odibets free bet as for our last tip.
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