The Round of 16 in the UEFA Europa League unfolds over the next two Thursdays, so before the action kicks off around Europe on Thursday afternoon, we thought we would preview the eight matchups of the round.
Up next, we’re going to take a look at the matchup between Italian club Napoli and Austrian club Red Bull Salzburg. Their leg one match kicks off from Stadio San Paolo in Naples, Italy on Thursday 7 March at 8:00pm GMT (3:00pm EST).
What Happened in the Round of 32
Napoli was the seeded club in their Round of 32 matchup against Zürich, and being drawn against one of the worst clubs in the tournament helped boost their odds of advancing to nearly 95% heading into the first leg. A 3-1 win in Switzerland during the first match sealed the fate of the Swiss club, with Napoli advancing to the Round of 16 5-1 on aggregate after a 2-0 win at home in leg two.
Red Bull Salzburg, on the other hand, had to overcome a 2-1 loss to Club Brugge in leg one of their Round of 32 match. They easily overcame the Belgian club in leg two, however, winning 4-0 to advance 5-2 on aggregate.
What the Experts are Saying
Napoli was the co-favorite (with Chelsea) prior to the Round of 16 draw. Red Bull Salzburg was among the top half of favorites (58%) to advance and were probably hoping to be drawn against a club below them. That didn’t happen – obviously – and Napoli remains a top favorite to win the entire tournament, slightly behind the current favorite Sevilla.
What We’re Thinking
Red Bull Salzburg has the benefit of hosting the second match of the round, but Napoli is an overwhelming favorite (56% to 21%) to win their leg one home match. Napoli has lost once at home in Serie A play, which is their only loss in Naples this season. Red Bull Salzburg doesn’t have some of the long odds that other clubs have to overcome this round – they have the second-best odds of any underdog this round – but they really got hurt with this draw. The hope is to go to Italy and keep it close so the return trip to Salzburg next week actually means something.
Until next time…