Napoli host Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of the tastiest Champions League qualifier on Tuesday.
The Champions League qualifiers are usually pretty routine occasions, with a big team beating a small team to progress into the competition proper. Unfortunately for Napoli and Athletic Bilbao, this isn't the case. They're both big teams, and they're both facing off for a spot in the group stages. The Italians host the first leg of this tasty tie on Tuesday, when anything really could happen.
Key player - Marek Hamšík (Napoli)
When he's at his best, it's easy to argue that Marek Hamšík is the best player in Serie A. Linking Napoli's midfield with its attack through a mixture of driving runs and cute passes, he possesses both the technique and the physique to be one of Europe's footballing stars. However, under Rafael Benítez last season he struggled, and is yet to prove he's totally comfortable in the Spaniard's system. Napoli will be praying he's back to his best by now.
Against all odds, Athletic Bilbao have still managed to keep a hold of their star attacker, Iker Muniain. The tricky young winger has long been compared with Lionel Messi, and been the subject of interest from much bigger clubs around Europe. Unfortunately for Napoli, he's stuck around at the San Mamés, and is set to go head-to-head with the notoriously bad defender Christian Maggio. If Bilbao can supply him with plenty of the ball, the Neapolitans could well struggle.
Napoli injuries and suspensions
Out: None. In doubt: None.
Athletic Bilbao injuries and suspensions
Out: None. In doubt: Aritz Aduriz (groin).
Neither of these sides have any serious injury concerns. Bilbao's veteran forward Aritz Aduriz is a slight doubt with a groin injury, though he's still expected to be involved.
Match Date/Time: Tuesday, 8:45 p.m. local, 2:45 p.m. ET
Venue: Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy
TV: Fox Sports 2 USA (U.S. - English), ESPN Deportes (U.S. - Spanish), Sportsnet One (Canada), Sky Sports 5/HD (U.K.), TV3, TVE La 1 (Spain)
Online: Fox Sports Go, Watch ESPN (U.S.), Sky Go (U.K.)
- Sports & Recreation
- Athletic Bilbao
- Iker Muniain
- Christian Maggio
- Rafael Benítez
- Lionel Messi