Napoli vs Rangers : Match preview and possible lineups

Last Updated on 25/10/2022 by

The Champions League match between tenacious Napoli and bottom position Rangers takes place at the Stadio Maradona on Wednesday.

The Serie A team, which boasts a perfect record in Group A, affirmed qualification last time out with yet another remarkable win, while their Scottish rivals suffered their worst-ever home loss at the hands of Liverpool.

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Napoli advanced to the round of 16 with ease as their stellar start to the 2022–23 season continues apace after scoring a hardly credible 10 goals past Group A rivals Ajax over the previous two matchdays.

As if the Neapolitans required any more offensive tools, goals from Hirving Lozano, Giacomo Raspadori, and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia were accompanied by a late strike from star striker Victor Osimhen in a 4-2 victory a fortnight ago, putting the Serie A leaders in an unchallengeable position in regards of qualification.

Raspadori, Piotr Zielinski, and Kvaratskhelia are three of the nine players who currently lead the Champions League in combined goals and assists, with each having a direct hand in five. Napoli is the team with the most recent success.

Luciano Spalletti’s team, who are already in the knockout rounds, will be declared the group winners if they defeat Rangers team twice this week while Liverpool lose to Ajax. Napoli will win first place even if they just draw and the beaten finalists from the previous season.

Since Juventus in 2004, they could now become the first Italian team to win all five of their group games, and all signs point to their development under the shrewd leadership of Spalletti not slowing down.

When it appeared that the Azzurri would lose a game on Sunday for the first time since August, Osimhen rose to the challenge at Stadio Olimpico, scoring an incredible late winner against Roma to extend their winning streak to 11 games and counting. It’s the best streak for the Campanian club in 36 years.

Few would wager against Napoli repeating their 3-0 victory at Ibrox from their lone previous encounter, which occurred on the 2nd day of the season’s Champions League campaign.

The only British team to triumph at Napoli’s home stadium in 15 Champions League matches, formerly known as Stadio San Paolo before the passing of club legend Diego Maradona two years ago, was Manchester City in November 2017.

Rangers, the most recent team to try their luck, has only triumphed once in 12 European away games against Italian teams in the past, and recent form indicates they will have a difficult time improving that dismal record.

Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s current squad has already given up 16 goals in Group A after losing all four of their games so far. In fact, no team has shipped more through the first four matchdays of this season.

The Glasgow club will therefore be unable to advance to the round of 16, but they still have a chance to finish third and secure a spot in the Europa League if they win on Wednesday. If they lose and Ajax do not, or even if they draw and the Dutch team wins, they will be officially ranked last.

The more Van Bronckhorst’s team advances through the current season, the further away last year’s run to the Europa League final seems to be. As he travels to the south for his team’s penultimate group game, the former Feyenoord manager is under intense pressure.

Last weekend’s 1-1 home draw saw Rangers fall four points behind Old Firm rivals Celtic in the Scottish title race, and only John Lundstram’s late goal prevented Livingston from claiming their first-ever victory at Ibrox. They now need to step up several gears to compete with their fellow Light Blues after a performance that was met with full-time boos and only three shots on target.

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Victor Osimhen scored his second consecutive winner over the weekend after returning from injury, but this season’s stars Giovanni Simeone and Napoli’s top Champions League scorer Giacomo Raspadori are also vying for selection up front, creating a pleasant dilemma for Luciano Spalletti to solve.

Due to a recent thigh injury that may keep him out until 2023, the hosts’ coach will once again be without center-back Amir Rrahmani, so Juan Jesus and Kim Min-jae should fill in.

Even though Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa resumed training last week following a thigh issue of his own, it’s possible that he won’t be able to play on Wednesday, in which case Tanguy Ndombele or Eljif Elmas would start in midfield.

Piotr Zielinski should join them; to date in the Champions League this season, only his fellow countryman Robert Lewandowski has been involved directly more in shots than his tally of 23.

With John Souttar joining Ryan Jack, Connor Goldson, and Swedish international Filip Helander on a lengthy injury list that also includes Ianis Hagi, Tom Lawrence, and Glen Kamara, Rangers are still without a number of key players.

At the weekend, Welsh winger Rabbi Matondo suffered a back injury, and Leon King was replaced by James Sands at halftime due to illness. However, Alex Lowry and Kemar Roofe have both recently made comebacks from injury and could both be included in the visiting team.

Antonio Colak and Alfredo Morelos are competing for playing time up front, while Allan McGregor has faced the most shots on goal and given up the most goals of any goalkeeper in the Champions League this season. In his 21 professional appearances among Europe’s elite, McGregor has only managed four clean sheets overall.

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Meret; Di Lorenzo, Kim, Jesus, Rui; Elmas, Lobotka, Zielinski; Politano, Raspadori, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia

Rangers possible starting lineup:
Allan McGregor; Tavernier, Sands, Davies, Barisic; Davis, Lundstram; Arfield, Tillman, Kent; Colak

Rangers vs Napoli previous meetup

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