March 13, 2019

UEFA Europa League Match Previews – 14th March Thursday

Red Bull Salzburg v Napoli

Italian giants Napoli will make a trip to the Red Bull Arena to face Salzburg in the second leg of their Europa League round of 16 clash. The Italian outfit will aim to add more goals to their three-goal advantage to book a ticket to the quarter-finals when they take on the Austrian side on Thursday.

The hosts were able to progress to the semi-final of the competition last season, but they will need all the help they can get if they are to go beyond the last 16 stage this time. Marco Rose’s men enjoyed a comfortable run in the group stages. However, things don’t seem to be looking very good for them ahead of the second leg match.

On the bright side, the Red Bulls have a fantastic record in their performances at home in the Europa League. They won 8 matches and drew 1 in their previous nine, keeping the clean sheets in each of their last three home fixtures in the competition.

In the meantime, Napoli are a force to be reckoned with as they won five in their last 6 matches on the road in the competition. They are expected to be one of the main challengers to go all the way this season.

However, Carlo Ancelotti’s men are facing an injury crisis ahead of Thursday’s match. The Italian side will be without some of their key players for the second leg with the likes of Raul Albiol, Kalidou Koulibaly, and Nikola Maksimovic.

Both sides have shown solid performances so far this season. Napoli will definitely enter this match in high spirits after the 3-0 aggregate win they acquired. They shouldn’t be too complacent though since Salzburg might just use their home advantage and the unavailability of Napoli’s key players to overpower their opponents.

Inter Milan v Eintracht Frankfurt

Inter Milan will host Eintracht Frankfurt in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 fixture on Thursday. The hosts displayed one of the best performances of the season in the first leg. However, the result still deadlocked at 0-0. Both of these teams’ advancement to the quarter-finals rely solely on whoever will come out successful in the second leg.

The hosts have finally ended their three-match winless run in all competition when they dominated SPAL in a 2-0 victory over the weekend. With that positive result, they will certainly enter take on the Bundesliga outfit in high spirits. Inter could also use playing at home in their advantage especially since they proved to be fairly solid at home. Facing a side like Eintracht could be a tougher challenge though.

On the other hand, German side Eintracht’s performances on the road in this competition have been somewhat inconsistent. However, they certainly have the capability of overpowering Inter with the help of key players Sebastien Haller and Luka Jovic. Furthermore, their defensive abilities in their away fixtures offered almost no resistance to their opponents.

Adi Hutter and his men shouldn’t be too contented though. Inter Milan are intimidating in front of their supporters, holding the likes of Tottenham and Barcelona to a draw in the Champions League this season. Both teams are very much capable of coming out successful on Thursday, but which team wants a place in the quarter-finals more?

Arsenal v Rennes

After a disappointing 3-1 loss in the first Leg, Arsenal will be aiming to overturn the two-goal deficit when they host Rennes at the Emirates Stadium in the second leg clash of their Europa League last-16 showdown. The Gunners will definitely be desperate when they face their opponents on Thursday if they want to secure their place in the quarter-finals.

The visitors will enter this match in a confident mood since they are undefeated in their previous five fixtures across all competitions. They also haven’t lost in the Europa League since their loss in the group stages in November of last year. Furthermore, their performance in the first leg proved that they can be a threat to Arsenal’s hopes of advancing to the next round.

Meanwhile, Arsenal have been running in an impressive five undefeated matches in the Premier League. It included the 1-1 draw against Tottenham as well as their 2-0 victory against Manchester United. However, their defeat in the hands of their Ligue 1 opponent in the first leg put a massive dent in their chances of reaching the quarter-finals.

Arsenal will most likely come into the match with grit and determination. A chaotic spectacle should be witnessed when these two meet. Expect Unai Emery and his men to give Rennes a run for their money on Thursday.

By @EliaasMJ

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