Possible scenarios in Napoli’s nail-biting challenge against Salzburg
Sportsbet.io discusses the situations that could make or break Napoli’s qualification hopes in the Champions League when they gear up to face Salzburg.
Top-of-the-group Napoli outclassed Salzburg in a five-goal thriller on matchday three and recorded their first away win in the competition in eight attempts. The Partenopei have lost just three Champions League fixtures at the San Paolo Stadium and will start as the odds-on favourites against Salzburg.
Salzburg has registered 11 goals in their opening three matches and will look to exact revenge for their first home loss in 71 games. The backline of Die Mozartstädter appears to be shaky at the moment, but head coach Jesse Marsch is confident his unit can spell trouble for the hosts.
Who can score first
Napoli and Salzburg boast of a lethal frontline, and their matchday three clash in October is an example of what fans should expect this midweek. The Partenopei are the favourites to score first, but the possibility of Die Mozartstädter netting first cannot be ruled out.
A high-scoring encounter is on the cards, with a 3-2 result in favour of Napoli the most likely outcome at the San Paolo Stadium.
Highest scoring half
The previous meeting played witness to a dramatic second half after the sides were on equal terms at half-time. The upcoming showdown should see a high-scoring scenario in the final 45 minutes, and the stakes at hand could unearth some memorable moments towards the final whistle.
Napoli has registered two clean sheets in the group stage so far, but the nature of the contest means a clean sheet is effectively out of sight for either team. While Salzburg has conceded nine goals across three games, Napoli has leaked just two goals in the process.
A brace by Dries Mertens not only propelled Napoli past Salzburg but also saw him dethrone Diego Maradona as the club's second-highest goalscorer across all competitions (116 goals). The Belgian forward is five short of Marek Hamsik's all-time record of 121 goals and is well-placed to open the scoring against the Austrian champions on Thursday.
The third-youngest player to score a UEFA Champions League hat-trick, Salzburg's Erling Haaland is joint-second on the goalscoring charts this term and is the favourite to grab the first goal into the fixture. The 19-year-old starlet is already the hottest transfer topic in the market, and a spectacular display at Napoli will consolidate his status as an emerging talent to watch out in the next few seasons.
Words: William Paul