- Leicester City welcome Napoli in Group C of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday (8pm BST kick-off)
- The Naples club have won all three of their opening fixtures in Serie A this season
- Italian football expert Vieri Capretta says Luciano Spalletti's side will arrive in confident mood
- He also points to the players which could pose the Foxes serious problems on Filbert Way
The Naples club have won all three of their opening Serie A fixtures this term, notably securing a 2-1 triumph over 36-time Italian champions Juventus over the weekend. A side with real European pedigree, they represent a stern opening opponent for the Foxes in a group packed with exciting clashes.
One-time winners of the competition back in 1989, before its reinvention as the Europa League, Gli Azzurri narrowly missed out on qualification for the UEFA Champions League last term. New manager Luciano Spalletti, however, has reinstalled a sense of confidence at Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.
"There’s massive excitement in the Napoli camp and among the fans, for two reasons," Capretta told LCFC TV. "Obviously, in the Europa League, I think Napoli believe they have a real chance to go very far in the competition because of the squad they have, the traditions and fans are back at San Paolo.
"It’ll be tough for anyone to travel there. They know it’s a tough group but they also know if they come out of it, they can really go far. Luciano Spalletti, the new coach, has done well in the past in the Europa League, specifically with Roma, so I think they’ve got everything in place to have a great time.
Former Roma and Inter Milan manager Luciano Spalletti joined Napoli in the summer and has overseen three wins in Serie A.
"Leicester City are a prestigious club, really famous in Italy for [Claudio] Ranieri’s win, so everybody’s really looking forward to this clash and let’s not forget that Napoli have three wins in three games in Serie A. The last one was against Juventus, a massive game, and enthusiasm is at its best."
Eradicating the disappointment at the end of last season, with Spalletti replacing Gennaro Gattuso in the dugout, has achieved remarkable success so far, with Napoli enjoying a 100 per cent record in Serie A, alongside AC Milan and Roma. Matteo Politano and Kalidou Koulibaly secured victory over Juve too.
"The end of last season left a bit of rust in the whole group because they thought they were going to get Champions League football, but then, on the final day of the season, they didn’t manage it," Capretta added. "There was a change with Spalletti coming in and he’s obviously a very famous coach.
"He’s done very well in Italy and I think he’s brought back that confidence because the squad is really good. Napoli can count on two good players, pretty much, in every position.
"There’s a lot of quality, especially up front, and it’s showed, particularly in the match against Juventus, where overall, Napoli were the better side. They attacked more and having that support in the stands as well means the confidence is huge.
Right now, in top form, there’s Matteo Politano, the right winger. He will likely start again after playing against Juventus. He scored the equaliser against Juve and he’s in very good shape.Vieri Capretta Italian Football Expert
"They approach this match knowing that Napoli and Leicester are probably the two bigger clubs in the group, even though the group is very balanced. Coming out of this first game with a positive result will boost the entire campaign."
Pointing to the threats which Leicester must be wary of on Filbert Way this Thursday, Capretta was spoilt for choice, with Napoli possessing a wealth of attacking talents, while they also boast commendable defensive strength among their ranks too.
"Right now, in top form, there’s Matteo Politano, the right winger," he explained. "He will likely start again after playing against Juventus. He scored the equaliser against Juve and he’s in very good shape.
"Victor Osimhen, the centre forward, still needs to find consistency in his scoring, but I think he’s got everything there, the talent is there. He’s a little raw perhaps, but watch out for him.
Kalidou Koulibaly strikes late on to send Napoli to an impressive victory over Juventus last weekend.
"The quality the midfielders have going forward too… Fabián Ruiz and Piotr Zieliński can both be dangerous if they have a bit of space at the edge of the box.
"Lorenzo Insigne’s obviously the star but he might not make it because of an injury. Kostas Manolas is now alongside Kalidou Koulibaly in defence, although Amir Rrahmani might start against Leicester. Focusing on Koulibaly, he’s a phenomenal defensive unit.
"He’s got everything to relate to a Premier League club because of his physicality, his strength, but at the same time, he has a tactical knowhow. He’s loved by Napoli and loves Napoli himself.
"He’s got an incredible record of scoring three times a late winner against Juventus over the last couple of seasons which continued at the weekend.
"He’s a goalscorer from defence, but he’s also got that mix that every great defender has which means he’s very confident on the ball, able to get out of tricky situations and he’s very physical in the air. At the same time, if he needs to go on a quick run, he’s ready for it, so he is a very, very good centre-back."
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