No stranger to European football, Carlo Ancelotti has been a champion of Europe five times – three of those times as a manager – but he goes in search of his first Europa League title this season as boss of Napoli.
With the round of 32 underway, why not check out UEFA Europa League betting on Betfair? The Azzurri take on FC Zürich with the first leg in Switzerland on February 14th and the return leg at the Stadio San Paolo on the 21st. The clubs are yet to meet in Europe – with Zürich making their debut at this stage of the competition. However, for Napoli, victory will make up for the disappointment of narrowly missing out in the Champions League group stages earlier this season.
Zürich v Italian clubs – won 2, drawn 3, lost 5
Napoli v Swiss clubs – won 3, drawn 1, lost 2
It is the first meeting between the two sides; however, Zürich have only ever lost on home soil once and Napoli have failed to win – or score – on their last two visits to Switzerland.
Zurich kicked off their Europa League campaign with three wins, before losing to Leverkusen and Larnaca and ending with a draw against Ludogorets. It has been four games in Europe since they’ve managed to keep a clean sheet. However, they’ve only won one game in five in all competitions, most recently in their domestic league (a 3-1 victory against Grasshoppers).
For Napoli, three draws in six cost them dear in the Champions League, finishing third to Liverpool, who they lost to in the final game of the group stages. Without a clean sheet in four, they’ll be looking to bounce back. The more-in-form team of the two, Napoli have won two of their last five
Ahead of the round of 32, Zurich bolstered their side with a new signing and two loan deals. South African defender, Joel Untersee returns to the club he spent two years at as a teenager, on loan from Italian club Empoli. He goes straight into the Europa League squad, alongside young defender Levan Kharabadze and centre forward Yann Kasai.
After numerous signings and departures in the summer window, it’s only one-in-one-out for the Italians – Amin Younes replacing Marko Rog, who joined Sevilla at the end of last month, until the end of the season.
Maurizio Sarri’s replacement at the end of last season is one of the biggest names in European football. Ancelotti’s CV boasts a wealth of success at many of the continent’s biggest clubs. Winning domestic titles in Italy, England, France and Germany, as well as Champions League finals with AC Milan (twice) and Real Madrid, he’ll be looking to add European silverware to Napoli’s cabinet for the first time in 20 years. Having taken charge of 160 Champions League matches, this is his experience of Europa League football and a chance of adding another accolade to his repertoire.