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Plzeň prepared for Napoli threat

FC Viktoria Plzeň face a tough challenge to make the round of 16, having to negotiate a way past an SSC Napoli side who boast Edinson Cavani, the competition's top scorer this season.

Edinson Cavani (left) has seven goals in this year's competition so far
Edinson Cavani (left) has seven goals in this year's competition so far ©AFP/Getty Images

SSC Napoli boast the UEFA Europa League's top scorer this season, Edinson Cavani, but can expect a tough tie against FC Viktoria Plzeň.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA club competition.

• The sum total of Napoli's experience against Czech sides is 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
• A 3-1 defeat by PSV Eindhoven on matchday six ended Napoli's 14-game unbeaten run at home in Europe (W10 D4) which stretched back almost 18 years to a 1-0 home loss to Eintracht Frankfurt in the third round of the 1994/95 UEFA Cup.

• Plzeň are unbeaten in their last four European games (W3 D1).

• 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.

• 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.

Team facts
• Napoli's Edinson Cavani turns 26 on the day of the game. He has yet to play in a UEFA game on his birthday. The Uruguayan scored more goals (seven) and had more shots on goal (13) than any other player in this season's group stage.

• 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.

• Of the sides in the round of 32, Napoli are the strongest finishers this season, having scored three of their 12 goals in second half added time. They also have the worst disciplinary record, with 17 yellow cards and two reds.

• Of the sides in the round of 32, Olympique Lyonnais, FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk and Plzeň are the quickest off the blocks after the break this season, with four of their goals coming within 15 minutes of the restart.

• 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.

• 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.

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.