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Plzeň look to avoid Napoli disaster

Published: Friday 15 February 2013, 4.05CET
SSC Napoli must become the first side to overcome a three-goal first leg deficit in the UEFA Europa League if they are to block FC Viktoria Plzeň's path to the round of 16.
Plzeň look to avoid Napoli disaster
Plzeň players celebrate their unlikely victory in Naples ©AFP/Getty Images
Published: Friday 15 February 2013, 4.05CET

Plzeň look to avoid Napoli disaster

SSC Napoli must become the first side to overcome a three-goal first leg deficit in the UEFA Europa League if they are to block FC Viktoria Plzeň's path to the round of 16.

FC Viktoria Plzeň are 3-0 up going into their round of 32 decider against SSC Napoli and know that no side has ever retrieved a three-goal first leg deficit in the UEFA Europa League.

• Goals from Vladimír Darida (28), František Rajtoral (79) and Stanislav Tecl (90) gave Plzeň their biggest away win in this competion and condemned Napoli to their heaviest home defeat in UEFA club competition.

Previous meetings
• The sides met for the first time in UEFA club competition last week.

• Up until then, the sum total of Napoli's experience against Czech sides was a 1974/75 UEFA Cup third round tie against FC Baník Ostrava, which they lost 3-1 on aggregate.

• Plzeň first encountered Serie A opposition when they met AC Milan in last season's UEFA Champions League group stage, losing 2-0 at San Siro before two late goals earned them a 2-2 draw in the return fixture.

Match background
• Plzeň are unbeaten in their last five European games (W4 D1).

• Since losing 4-0 to FC Barcelona in last season's UEFA Champions League group stage, Plzeň have gone eight home games without defeat – two draws followed by six straight wins. During that winning streak they have scored 16 goals and conceded just one. They have yet to lose in eight UEFA Europa League home fixtures.

• A 2-1 win at AIK Solna in their final UEFA Europa League group stage away game stopped the rot for Napoli, who had lost their previous three continental away games, conceding three goals or more in each.

• Group B winners Plzeň reached the round of 32 for the first time last season, but their first springtime UEFA club competition fixture ended in a 4-2 aggregate defeat – after extra time – by FC Schalke 04.

• Runners-up in Group F this season, Napoli reached the UEFA Champions League round of 16 last term. They have reached the UEFA Europa League round of 32 once since the advent of the UEFA Cup group stage in 2004/05, going out to Villarreal CF in 2010/11.

• Napoli's greatest European achievement to date came when they beat VfB Stuttgart 5-4 on aggregate to win the 1988/89 UEFA Cup.

Team facts
• Napoli's Edinson Cavani remains the UEFA Europa League's top scorer with seven goals, but there are now three players level in second place on five goals: S.S. Lazio's Libor Kozák, FC Internazionale Milano's Rodrigo Palacio and Raúl Bobadilla, who has moved to FC Basel 1893 since hitting five in the group stage for BSC Young Boys.

• Napoli's Slovakia midfielder Marek Hamšík could come up against a number of his international team-mates, with goalkeeper Matúš Kozáčik, defender Marián Čišovský, forward Marek Bakoš and striker Michal Ďuriš all on Plzeň's books.

• Napoli are strong finishers: five of their 12 goals have been scored between the 75th minute and the final whistle, including three in added time. However, Plzeň have a similarly powerful sting in their tail, with five of their goals coming in the final 15 minutes of their games.

• Napoli have conceded 15 goals since the start of the group stage – four more than any other side left in the competition.

• Pavel Vrba's career as a defender peaked with spells at RH Cheb and Baník Ostrava and in the 1980s. After coaching the national Under-20 side, he won the Czech title as assistant coach of Baník (2003/04) and the Slovakian crown as boss of MŠK Žilina (2006/07), moving on to Plzeň in 2008. He lifted the Czech Cup in his second season and the league title in his third, in 2010/11, then marshalled their progress to the UEFA Champions League group stage the following term.

• Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri spent most of his playing career as a central defender outside Serie A, and after assisting Renzo Ulivieri as Napoli boss, struck out on his own. He worked his way up the divisions as a coach, before reaching Serie A with AS Livorno Calcio and Reggina FC, guiding UC Sampdoria through the 2008/09 UEFA Cup group stage and then taking command at Napoli in October 2009.

Round of 16: Napoli/Plzeň v FC BATE Borisov/Fenerbahçe SK
• The first legs will be played on 7 March, with the returns the following Thursday.

• Plzeň and BATE were pooled together in the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League group stage, drawing 1-1 in Prague before Plzeň won the away leg 1-0 in Minsk.

Last updated: 01/05/13 9.18CET

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