Zürich are making their round of 32 bow against a Napoli side who narrowly lost out in a tough UEFA Champions League section.
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Zürich's debut appearance in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 pits them against Napoli for the first time, the Italian side hoping to make up for the disappointment of narrowly losing out in a tough UEFA Champions League group.
• The Swiss side are through to the spring phase of a European competition for the first time in 11 years having finished runners-up to Bayer Leverkusen in UEFA Europa League Group A thanks to victories in each of their opening three fixtures.
• Napoli were the best third-placed team in the UEFA Champions League on nine points, but their only defeat, 0-1 at Liverpool on matchday six, enabled the Merseysiders to leapfrog them into second place on goals scored.
• Zürich's record against Italian sides is W2 D3 L5 but they have suffered only one defeat on Swiss soil, drawing the last two such encounters including their only previous UEFA Europa League match, 1-1 against Lazio in the 2011/12 group stage.
• Napoli are yet to win, or score, in two previous visits to Switzerland, most recently losing 2-0 at Young Boys in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League group stage – the Serie A side's only loss in that season's competition until they were eliminated by a 1-0 defeat at Dnipro in the semi-final second leg.
• Zürich ensured a return to Europe after a year's absence by winning the Swiss Cup for the third time in five years – and tenth time in all – as they denied champions Young Boys the double with a 2-1 win in the Berne final.
• FCZ's fourth UEFA Europa League group stage participation kicked off with wins at AEK Larnaca (1-0), and at home to Ludogorets (1-0) and Leverkusen (3-2); although they lost 1-0 in Germany on matchday four, they still qualified alongside Leverkusen with two games to spare, ending a sequence of three successive group eliminations.
• Zürich reached the round of 32 on their sole UEFA Cup group stage participation, in 2007/08, but lost 3-1 on aggregate to Hamburg. It is 20 years since they made it into the last 16 of a European competition, reaching the UEFA Cup third round in 1998/99.
• The Swiss club were unbeaten in ten home games in the UEFA Europa League group stage (W6 D4) before losing 1-2 to AEK Larnaca on matchday five. Their only other defeat on Swiss soil in the competition proper came in their first such fixture, 0-2 against Sporting CP on matchday one of 2011/12.
• Serie A runners-up in 2017/18, Napoli qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stage for the fifth time – all in the last eight seasons.
• This is the second successive season that they have finished third in their UEFA Champions League section and therefore crossed over to the UEFA Europa League. Last term they were defeated in the round of 32 by RB Leipzig, losing to the European debutants on away goals (1-3 home, 2-0 away).
• This is Napoli's seventh appearance in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 – a competition record they share with Villarreal, Ajax and Sporting CP. However, they have won only two of their previous six ties, against Swansea in 2013/14 (0-0 away, 3-1 home) and Trabzonspor the following season (4-0 away, 1-0 home), when they progressed all the way to the semi-finals.
• UEFA Cup winners in 1989, Napoli's only win in their last seven European away fixtures (D2 L4) was that 2-0 victory last February at Leipzig that proved insufficient to keep them in the competition. Their away record in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase is W3 D2 L5.
UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Levan Kharabadze, Yann Kasai, Joel Untersee
Out: Victor Pálsson, Sangoné Sarr, Roberto Rodriguez
In: Amin Younes
Out: Marko Rog
Links and trivia
• Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik was a member of the Poland side that beat Switzerland on penalties in the round of 16 at UEFA EURO 2016. A scorer in the shoot-out, he had also been on target in Poland's 2-2 draw against a Switzerland side featuring FCZ's Marco Schönbächler in a November 2014 friendly.
• Zürich's Alain Nef played in Italy for Piacenza, Udinese and Triestina between 2006 and 2010, defeating Napoli 2-1 with the former in the 2006/07 Serie B campaign.
• Zürich are one of only five clubs involved in this round of 32 who have never previously participated in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase; Dinamo Zagreb, Slavia Praha, Malmö and Rennes are the others.
• FCZ are the first Swiss side to reach the UEFA Europa League round of 32 since 2015/16, when Basel and Sion progressed from the group stage.
• Napoli lifted the UEFA Cup in 1988/89 and are one of ten former winners of the trophy in this season's knockout phase, along with Sevilla, Internazionale, Chelsea, Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit, Valencia, Galatasaray, Bayer Leverkusen and Eintracht Frankfurt.
• While Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti has overseen 160 UEFA Champions League matches, this is his first game as a coach in the UEFA Europa League.
• A Swiss international left-back from 2000 to 2010 who won 62 caps for his country and appeared at four successive major tournaments, Ludovic Magnin spent most of that time in Germany with Werder Bremen and Stuttgart, winning the Bundesliga with both, before ending his career back in his homeland with Zürich. It was with FCZ's youth teams that he made his first steps as a coach before graduating to the top job in February 2018 and steering the club to Swiss Cup glory three months later.
• One of the most distinguished and successful coaches in contemporary European football, former Italian international midfielder Carlo Ancelotti has an enviable CV, having managed several of the continent's top clubs and won a stack of trophies, including the UEFA Champions League on three occasions and league titles in Italy, England, France and Germany. He was appointed by Napoli in May 2018, the Partenopei becoming the record eighth club he has coached in the UEFA Champions League – after Parma, Juventus, Milan, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid and Bayern München.