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Now or never for Napoli as Shakhtar visit

Napoli have picked up only three points from four Group F fixtures and have to win their last two games to have any hope – starting at home to second-placed Shakhtar Donetsk.

Marek Hamšík and Pepe Reina after Napoli's matchday four loss
Marek Hamšík and Pepe Reina after Napoli's matchday four loss ©AFP/Getty Images

SSC Napoli have absolutely no margin for error as they welcome FC Shakhtar Donetsk to Italy with their UEFA Champions League hopes on the line.

• Shakhtar are in pole position to join leaders and already-qualified Manchester City FC in progressing from Group F. The Ukrainian team have nine points, six more than Napoli, and will be through if they avoid defeat or if they lose but hold a better head-to-head after both games against Napoli.

Napoli went down 2-1 in Ukraine on matchday one in the first meeting between these sides, and have collected only three points from four matches. They therefore must win by any scoreline that leaves them at least level with Shakhtar on head-to-head. They will confirm a top-three finish if they pick up more points than Feyenoord manage away to City.

Match background

• The Italian club were 3-1 winners against Feyenoord in their first home game, but lost 4-2 to Manchester City on matchday four.

• The City defeat was only Napoli's third loss in their last 24 European home fixtures (W15 D6). They have, however, won only one of their last three home games in the UEFA Champions League group stage to final, losing three.

• Napoli are unbeaten in their three home matches against visitors from Ukraine (W1 D2), most recently drawing 0-0 with FC Dynamo Kyiv in last season's group stage.

• Napoli are in the group stage for the second year running. In 2016/17, the Partenopei lost to eventual champions Real Madrid CF in the round of 16, succumbing 3-1 both away and at home.

• In last year's group stage, Napoli earned four points at home, beating SL Benfica 4-2 but losing 3-2 to Beşiktaş JK.

• The Naples outfit qualified for this season's group stage by overcoming OGC Nice 2-0 both home and away in the play-offs.

• Shakhtar have registered a win and a defeat in their Group F away fixtures, losing 2-0 at Manchester City on matchday two before a 2-1 success at Feyenoord.

• Shakhtar had won their previous five European away games before losing at City, and have been victorious in nine of their last 12 matches outside Ukraine, losing the other three.

• The Ukrainian team have struggled in Italy, where their record is W1 D2 L6 – although they posted a 1-1 draw at Juventus on their most recent visit, in the 2012/13 group stage. The sole win was a 2011 triumph at AS Roma (3-2) the trip before that, setting up a 6-2 round of 16 aggregate victory.

• Shakhtar are making their seventh group stage appearance in eight seasons and their 12th in total – all since 2000. They have got to the last 16 on three occasions: 2010/11 (when they were quarter-finalists), 2012/13 and 2014/15.

• In 2016/17, the Ukrainian side lost to BSC Young Boys in the third qualifying round (2-0 home, 0-2 away, 2-4 on penalties). They eventually made it to the UEFA Europa League round of 32, going out to RC Celta de Vigo (1-0 away, 0-2 home aet).

Coach and player links
• Marko Rog linked up with Shakhtar's Darijo Srna in the Croatia squad at UEFA EURO 2016.

• Vlad Chiricheş was in the Romania team beaten 4-3 by Ukraine in a friendly on 29 May 2016. Andriy Pyatov, Bohdan Butko, Yaroslav Rakitskiy and Taras Stepanenko all featured for the winning side.

• Marek Hamšík assisted the only goal when Slovakia won 1-0 in Ukraine on 8 September 2014 in UEFA EURO 2016 qualifying. Pyatov, Rakitskiy and Stepanenko appeared for the hosts.

• Piotr Zieliński was in the Poland team beaten 1-0 by Ukraine at the OSK Metalist Stadion in Kharkiv on 11 October 2013. Pyatov, Rakitskiy and Stepanenko played for the opposition.

• Ex-Shakhtar forward Yevhen Seleznyov scored both FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk goals when Napoli lost their 2014/15 UEFA Europa League semi-final 2-1 on aggregate.

• Zieliński and Arkadiusz Milik helped Poland overcome Ukraine 1-0 in the group stage of UEFA EURO 2016. Pyatov, Butko, Stepanenko and Viktor Kovalenko all figured for Ukraine.

• Rog was a late substitute when Croatia edged Ukraine 1-0 in FIFA World Cup qualifying on 24 March 2017. Pyatov, Butko, Stepanenko, Ivan Ordets and Kovalenko were involved for Ukraine.

• Played together:
Rafael Cabral & Alan Patrick (Santos FC, 2010–11)

Match facts

• Kalidou Koulibaly serves a suspension on matchday five; Dries Martens is a booking away from a ban.

• Napoli have picked up 35 points from a possible 39 in Serie A this term.

• Maurizio Sarri's men are 25 games unbeaten (W21 D4) in Serie A, dating back to February.

• Napoli are 20 games unbeaten away from home in Serie A (W17 D3), since a 2-1 defeat at Juventus on 29 October 2016.

• Jorginho made his competitive debut for Italy as a 0-0 draw with Sweden ended their FIFA World Cup ambitions; Lorenzo Insigne was a second-half substitute in the play-off first leg, a 1-0 loss.

• Arkadiusz Milik has not featured since tearing knee ligaments for the second time in 12 months during the win at SPAL on 23 September.

• Faouzi Ghoulam is out with a torn anterior knee ligament suffered on matchday four.

• Dries Mertens, who has scored ten goals in 11 Serie A appearances this season, is on the 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or. The winner will be announced on 6 December.

• Yaroslav Rakitskiy is available after a one-match ban; Darijo Srna is serving a suspension.

• Shakhtar's 14-match unbeaten domestic run was ended on Friday night by a 2-1 home defeat against FC Olexandriya. Prior to that shock reverse they had won 14 and drawn three of their previous 18 games in all competitions, losing only to Manchester City on matchday two.

• Facundo Ferreyra has scored five goals in his last five games for Shakhtar while Marlos has struck three times in as many club matches.

• Following Friday's match, Ferreyra was the top scorer in the Ukrainian Premier League with ten goals while Marlos (7) is now joint second on the list.

• Marlos claimed an assist as Ukraine beat Slovakia 2-1 in a friendly on 10 November. Andriy Pyatov, Bohdan Butko and Ivan Ordets also appeared for the hosts in Lviv.

• Bernard was named the best player in October by Shakhtar fans. Facundo Ferreyra finished second, with Fred third.