On the 1st leg of this tie between 3rd placed teams from the Serie A and the Ligue 1, we will have Napoli making their official season debut.
While Nice has already played some official matches, namely on the qualifying rounds for this season’s Champions League.
On this match, Nice won’t be able to have the support of their fans, due to UEFA’s order, after some disorder that happened in a match between these two teams a couple of months ago;
On the 2nd leg there will be no away Italian support as well, since the Italian fans won’t be able to attend the match at Nice’s stadium to support their team.
The Italian side goes into this play-off as a clear favourite to go through, considering they have a great quality roster, far superior when compared to Nice’s. They also seem to be better as a team, collectively, than their opponent in this play-off.
The team had an interesting pre-season, with good performances in several matches, with the most remarkable being their performance on the Audi Cup tournament, where they were able to beat Bayern Munchen 2-0 and showcased, as a team, their quality and ability to play good and attractive football.
In good form, this Napoli is clearly one of the hardest teams to beat, and one of the most impressive football teams in all Europe.
Moving on to Nice, the French side arrives at this match after being able to eliminate Ajax on the last round, where despite drawing the 2 legs, they ended up going through on away goals. On their domestic league, they have lost twice in 2 matches played.
It seems that Lucien Favre still didn’t manage to improve this team enough going into this new season, and Nice is still resenting some players’ departures, such as Ricardo Pereira. Despite everything, the team had some decent exhibitions so far, despite not being able to win yet.
Napoli vs Nice Pick:
The difference between the two teams is considerable and the difference on their intermeshing should also be visible. Napoli has kept the same core from the last few seasons and they also kept their excellent manager Maurizio Sarri, unlike Nice, who lost one or two players on this transfer window.
Despite Napoli being a very interesting side, and their development in the last few months with Sarri in charge, they still have a long road ahead, especially in this first half of the season.
That is their main disadvantage when compared to Nice, who already has some progress. Besides what I’ve already stated, the fact that Nice won’t be able to have their fans on the stands will also have its negative effect.
All in all, and in front of a Napoli with a very strong offensive dynamic, I expect Nice to sit back a bit more, playing on the anticipation, and a very tight first half, eventually goalless. On the 2nd half, I predict a bit more space for both teams, and consequentially a higher chance for goals.