The UEFA Champions League is back and back with a bang. The Group of death sees the 4 teams are currently on top of their respective domestic tables, and in good form bolstered by new signings, positive performances and top class management.
Emblematic of the quality on show in this group and in the Champions League as a whole, the opening day sees an extremely exciting fixture in the form of Dortmund travelling to Italy to take on Napoli. Both teams are full of quality across the pitch, and are headed by two of the brightest minds in football, Jurgen Klopp and Rafael Benitez. The tactical battle between these two minds should be enough to have most people drowning in a pool of their own saliva, the addition of so many exciting talents only makes it more interesting.
Napoli are generally a very difficult team to beat at home, due in no small part to the amazing atmosphere created by their fans. There is a saying in Italy, where they always try to take the difficult qualifiers down South, because of the passion of the supporters there. The team itself looks very strong, and is full of quality. Despite the fact that Edinson Cavani has left for Paris, goals haven’t been a problem at all; Napoli are top scorers in Serie at the time of writing, with 9 goals in their 3 games. The priceless Marek Hamsik has been the standout performer with 4 goals so far, and he has been well supported by the likes of Callejon, and Higuain. Napoli have a good spine, with an organised defence, strong and creative midfield, and good strikers up front.
Dortmund were the most pleasantly surprising team in the Champions League last season, making it all the way to the finals. This though, Der BVB cannot claim the title of the plucky underdogs this time though, and expectations are high at the Signal Iduna Park. Dortmund have won their first 5 games of the Bundesliga, and head into this game on the back of a 6-2 thrashing of Hamburg. The front men look in good form, and will always be dangerous with their brand of attacking through ‘Organised Chaos’. The variety is also stunning, with a dribbler like Reus, a play maker in the form of Mkhitaryan, a willing runner in Kuba, and the pacy Aubemeyang. In defence, Dortmund bear a settled look about them. Weidenfeller, Hummels and Subotic have been together for a few seasons now, and their partnership looks solid as ever.
Tactically, it will probably Dortmund looking to hit Napoli on the counter with their ample pace. Of course, Napoli will probably have to look for the win as they’re in a home game against one of their top rivals, but a more tempered approach is probably going to be seen, with Benitez being a little cautious of the threat Dortmund pose on the break.
Napoli vs Dortmund