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UEFA Europa League

  • March 13, 2014
  • • 18:00
  • • Estádio Do Dragão, Porto
  • Referee: P. Kralovec
  • • Attendance: 25520
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Porto-Napoli Preview: Benitez's men continue Europa League charge

Porto-Napoli Preview: Benitez's men continue Europa League charge

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The hosts have finally returned to winning ways after struggling in recent weeks but face a Partenopei brimming with confidence after their win over Roma

After a breakthrough win on Sunday, Porto will look to take another step forward against Napoli in the Europa League on Thursday.

Porto's players should have a spring in their collective step when they host Napoli in the first leg of their round-of-16 tie with a new head coach, an in-form forward and the taste of victory on their tongues.

Interim head coach Luis Castro led Porto to a 4-1 win over lowly Arouca in the Primeira Liga on Sunday with Ricardo Quaresma - who only signed for the club in January - scoring twice to reach seven goals in 13 games for the reigning Portuguese champions.

Porto sacked former head coach Paulo Fonseca last week after their winless streak in all competitions stretched to four matches with Castro installed on a 'temporary basis'.

Fonseca's tenure ended after only nine months with the 41-year-old having joined Porto from Pacos de Ferreira before the season.

Porto sit third in the Primeira Liga, two points behind second-placed Sporting, while leaders Benfica are seven clear at the top of the table.

Napoli will also enter the round-of-16 tie in third spot in their domestic league, three points behind Roma in Serie A, while Juventus are the runaway leaders in Italy, 14 ahead of the second-placed capital club.

But Castro and his Porto charges will need to be wary of Napoli, who claimed an impressive 1-0 win over Roma on Sunday.

Quaresma will undoubtedly be Porto's main man with the 30-year-old likely to line up on the left wing of a front three alongside centre-forward Jackson Martinez and right-sided attacker Silvestre Varela.

Mercurial attacker Quaresma, who played 114 matches for Porto between 2004 and 2008, rejoined the club in January after seven months without a club.

Quaresma left Al Ahli of the United Arab Emirates in May and was considered something of a risk when Porto handed him a contract on New Year's Day.

But the former Barcelona and Inter man has shone over the past month, scoring six goals in his past eight matches.

Porto edged through to the final 16 of the Europa League on the away goals rule, after their tie against Eintracht Frankfurt finished 5-5 on aggregate.

Having trailed 4-2 on aggregate with just over 30 minutes remaining in the second leg in Germany, Porto scored three times, including a double from French defender Eliaquim Mangala, to advance.

Rafael Benitez's Napoli had an easier time in the round of 32, overcoming Swansea 3-1 on aggregate after a scoreless first leg in Wales.

Napoli have not lost in eight games in all competitions and had goalscorers Lorenzo Insigne, Gonzalo Higuain and Gokhan Inler to thank for their win over Swansea.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Porto

Napoli

Wins
2
1
0
Wins

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