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Napoli v Wolfsburg background

SSC Napoli are 4-1 up as they come into the home leg of their quarter-final against VfL Wolfsburg, who must set a new European record if they are to reach the semi-finals.

Rafael Benítez congratulates Marek Hamšík after Napoli's first-leg success
Rafael Benítez congratulates Marek Hamšík after Napoli's first-leg success ©AFP/Getty Images

SSC Napoli need only avoid an unprecedented defeat at home against VfL Wolfsburg in their UEFA Europa League quarter-final second leg to make it to the semi-finals.

Previous meetings
• Wolfsburg's 4-1 first leg loss to Napoli was the biggest home reverse in the club's European history.

Napoli's record in 17 encounters with German sides is W5 D4 L8 (W4 D1 L3 at home).

Wolfsburg accounted for FC Internazionale Milano 5-2 on aggregate in the round of 16. Their only other encounter with Italian opposition in a major UEFA competition came in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup group stage when they twice came from behind to draw 2-2 at AC Milan, although they also lost 3-0 on aggregate to AC Perugia in a 2003 UEFA Intertoto Cup final.

Form guide
• No side has ever progressed in a European tie after losing the home leg by more than two goals, though 13 have retrieved a two-goal deficit.

Napoli are unbeaten in 11 European home games (W9 D2) since a 3-0 loss to FC Viktoria Plzeň in February 2013 – their heaviest European home defeat.

Wolfsburg are unbeaten in four on the road (W3 D1). They have won three European away games by three-goal margins: two 3-0s and one 4-1.

Napoli have not reached the quarter-finals of a major UEFA tournament since they won the UEFA Cup in 1988/89, beating VfB Stuttgart over two legs in the final.

Wolfsburg have reached this stage for the first time since they were eliminated from the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League in the quarter-finals by Fulham FC.

• This season's UEFA Europa League records:
 – W8 D2 L1 F23 A5
Wolfsburg – W6 D2 L3 F22 A16

Trivia and links

• Napoli are one of three former UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League winners left in the competition, along with holders Sevilla FC (2006, 2007, 2014) and FC Zenit (2008). A Napoli side led by Diego Maradona triumphed in 1989 after beating German opponents in the shape of VfB Stuttgart 5-4 on aggregate in the final (2-1 h, 3-3 a).

Wolfsburg are the least experienced side left in this season's UEFA Europa League – they have played only 61 games in UEFA competition.

Napoli and FC Dynamo Kyiv are the top-scoring sides left in the competition with 23 goals scored in 11 games since the start of the group stage: an average of 2.09 per game.

• Of the sides that started out in the group stage, Napoli have conceded the fewest goals in their 11 games with five; 0.45 goals per game, or one every 198 minutes.

Napoli have also had the most shots on target (84) in this season's competition, and have hit the post nine times.

Napoli's Gonzalo Higuaín is now the second highest scorer in this season's UEFA Europa League with seven goals, one adrift of Everton FC's Romelu Lukaku and former FC Salzburg striker Alan – both of whose sides have been eliminated.

Napoli left-back Faouzi Ghoulam and Wolfsburg midfielder Josuha Guilavogui were team-mates at AS Saint-Étienne from 2010–13.

• Defender Henrique (Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 2008–09) is the only Napoli player with Bundesliga experience.

Napoli's José Callejon and FC Dynamo Kyiv's Andriy Yarmolenko have both hit the post three times in this season's competition.

Wolfsburg winger Maximilian Arnold could celebrate his 21st birthday at the UEFA Europa League final. He is the only player left in the competition who was born on 27 May.

Wolfsburg teenager Oskar Zawada – who has yet to play in this season's competition – is one of three Polish players who could potentially feature in the UEFA Europa League final in Warsaw, along with Łukasz Teodorczyk (FC Dynamo Kyiv) and Grzegorz Krychowiak (Sevilla FC).

The coaches
Napoli coach since May 2013, Rafael Benítez won two Spanish titles and the 2003/04 UEFA Cup with Valencia CF, the 2004/05 UEFA Champions League with Liverpool FC and the 2012/13 UEFA Europa League with Chelsea FC. The Spaniard lifted the Coppa Italia in his first Napoli campaign. Benítez could match Giovanni Trapattoni in becoming only the second coach to win the UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League for a third time.

• Benítez (Chelsea, 2013) is one of three coaches involved in the round of 32 who have won the UEFA Europa League since the competition took on its current incarnation, along with Zenit's André Villas-Boas (FC Porto, 2011) and Sevilla's Unai Emery (Sevilla, 2014). Benitez is the only coach in the quarter-finals to have won the UEFA Champions League.

• At one stage a lower-league midfielder and trainee policeman, Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking is back in Europe for the first time since steering second-tier TSV Alemannia Aachen into the 2004/05 UEFA Cup group phase. More recently, he has coached Hannover 96 and 1. FC Nürnberg, taking up his current post in December 2012.

Penalty shoot-outs
Napoli's record in three UEFA competition penalty shoot-outs is W1 L2 (W1 L0 at home):
3-4 v Toulouse FC (A), 1986/87 UEFA Cup first round
4-3 v Sporting Clube de Portugal (H), 1989/90 UEFA Cup first round
3-5 v FC Spartak Moskva (A), 1990/91 European Champion Clubs' Cup second round

Wolfsburg have yet to feature in a penalty shoot-out in UEFA competition.