Napoli vs Red Bull SalzburgUEFA Europa League, KO: 20:00 Mar 7, 2019, Stadio San Paolo
SALZBURG have lit up the Europa League for the past two seasons but face arguably their greatest test against Serie A giants Napoli.
The Austrian side stormed to the semi-finals last term, knocking out Lazio on the way, before their adventure was finally ended by Marseille.
And they have been equally impressive in this campaign, winning every game in a group that contained Red Bull stablemates Leipzig, Celtic and Rosenborg.
They stumbled a little in the first leg of their last-32 clash with Bruges, losing 2-1 in Belgium, but made amends by romping to a 4-0 win at home in the return.
However, I suspect Napoli will have too much class for Salzburg, especially in the first leg. Lazio scored four against the Austrians in Italy last term, winning 4-2, before falling apart in the second leg.
Allied with the loss in Belgium on their last Euro away day, it suggests Salzburg aren't too hot on the road against quality opposition.
Even at Parkhead, faced with a Celtic team who couldn't string two passes together, they almost contrived to throw away a game they had dominated, with Hoops stopper Kris Ajer missing a sitter from a yard out that could have ultimately earned his side a 2-2 draw.
I was at that game and the high press that spooked Celtic so much won't get the same kind of joy against a Napoli defence that's far more comfortable on the ball.
The Serie A side were desperately unlucky not to qualify from a Champions League group that boasted PSG and Liverpool, with only a late Allison save denying them in the final game at Anfield.
Swiss side Zurich were despatched with the minimum of fuss in the last Europa League round, with Napoli winning 5-1 on aggregate, and Carlo Ancelotti's side could be potential winners of the tournament.
With Juventus out of sight in the Serie A title race, they should take the Europa League seriously as it represents their only chance of silverware this term.
Defender Raul Albiol is the only injury absentee for the Italians while Salzburg have doubts over Marin Pongracic and Zlatko Junuzovic.
Napoli are a best 13/25 with Marathonbet for a home win but you can get some value by backing them to be winning at half-time and full-time, which is 13/10 with Ladbrokes. In their last three Europa League games, the Serie A giants have been leading at the break and gone on to win.
Napoli have kept clean sheets in three of their last four games and that suggests backing them to shut out Salzburg could pay off at 6/5 with Bet365.
But Salzburg have scored in almost every European game this season, their only blank coming in a Champions League qualifier with Red Star Belgrade, so there's also a case to be made for both teams to score at 10/11 with the same firm.
I expect Napoli to take a two-goal cushion into the second leg and backing that winning margin for either side could pay a decent profit at 14/5 with Betway.
Belgian ace Dries Mertens is always a threat for Ancelotti's side so I'll be backing him in the anytime scorer market at 6/4 with Boylesports. Any Salzburg goal is likely to come from deadly Israel Munas Dabbour who is 3/1 with Betfred in the same market.
This UEFA Europa League match between Napoli and Red Bull Salzburg will be played on Mar 7, 2019 and kick off at 20:00