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Champions League: Three key battles for Napoli vs. Nice

The Italians take a 2-0 lead them to France. RealSport looks at the battles that could decide the game and the tie.


In one of the most eye-catching ties of the round, Nice look to come back against Napoli in the Champions League play-offs. Here are three individual battles that could determine who makes it to the group stages. 

Mario Balotelli vs Kalidou Koulibaly

Nice are without Alassane Plea through suspension, so perennial figure Balotelli could prove crucial. He finally looks to have found a home in Nice and was extremely impressive in his first campaign at the club last season, netting 15 goals in only 23 league games. 

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However, turning around a 2-0 goal deficit against such a strong opponent is a big ask, especially coming up against a defence with Koulibaly in it. The Napoli centre half has proven himself to be one of the best defenders in Europe and Balotelli will have to have one of his special games for Nice to have a chance of progression.

Jean Seri vs Allan

Both teams have an exceptional, yet somewhat unheralded midfield with Seri and Allan key components of both. Seri has the ability to dictate any game and is an extremely progressive passer, always looking for the vertical options to break in between the opposition lines. 

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However, in Allan he will come up against a competitor who himself is extremely comfortable on the ball and won’t give Seri a moments peace. Stopping Seri from getting on the ball will be crucial for Napoli if they want to ensure a safe passage into the Champions League group stage.

Lorenzo Insigne vs Dante

The Brazilian centre half was somewhat of a cult figure. Good on the ball, and willing to take risks but with a big error in his game. However, since joining Nice he has become a leader at the back for the French side and those mistakes are few and far between. However, he will be coming up against an attack of Insigne, Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon. 

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Napoli’s forward line has pace, quality, intelligence and are beautifully in-sync with one another. Insigne is a supremely gifted forward and looks to cut in from the left wing. Dante will have to be extremely aware of the Italian venturing over to his area and must have full concentration for the duration of the game, otherwise Nice will be punished.

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Harry Brooks

Harry graduated from UAL in Elephant and Castle with a 2:1 BA Hons degree in sports journalism.

He has an NCTJ diploma and also coaches football and teaches PE in schools.

Harry loves to talk football tactics!

Champions League: Three key battles for Napoli vs. Nice

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