They want to be present for the second consecutive season in the groups of the competition. Rafa Benitez continues to be on the bench. They have kept their basic scheme.
The most important loss is the one of the midfielder Behrami (Hamburger) while the addition is the striker Michu (Swansea). There are more players added to the roster such as the goalkeeper Andujar from Catania, the stopper Koulibaly from Genk, the midfielder Donadel from Verona, while Gargano and Vargas returned from Parma and Valencia correspondingly. The last one is very close to QPR, while almost sure is the transfer of Goran Pandev.
There is grumbling from the fans because of the reluctance of president De Laurentiis to spend money on transfers. Today, however, it is expected to announce the acquisition of midfielder De Guzman from Villarreal for 6.5 million Euros, while Fellaini’s transfer will only proceed if Napoli qualifies to the groups of Champions League.
In their last friendly they lost 2-1 in “San Paolo” to Paris Saint Germain. Earlier, they won Barcelona 1-0, Paok 2-0, Benfica 2-1, Braga 3-1, Galatasaray 3-1, drawn 2-2 to Arsenal and finally lost 3-1 to Porto.
“It would not be a tragedy if we lose. Today’s game is crucial both for the administration and our fans. We have to face Bilbao with no stress. If we play like against Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, we can win any opponent. We respect the Basques. Valverde is an excellent coach and it has proven that so far. Bilbao is a group of players playing together for many years. It is important not to concede goal and to score at least one, “said Rafa Benitez. He also added that Gonzalo Higuain is going to start normally, although he is not 100% ready because he is one of the players who can change a match with one move.
Midfielder Zuniga, the stopper Henrique and midfielder Dzemaili are not available for the current match. The last one goes to AC Milan. Napoli will play with the classic 4-2-3-1, with Higuain on top of the attacking line and Insigne, Hamsik, Callejon to move from behind.
Athletic Club news:
They were the pleasant surprise of last year’s Spanish league. They led the informal race after the first triad – Atletico, Barcelona, Real – absolutely fair and secured their presence in the playoffs of the Champions League. They soon found a good pace, played smoothly and made some big wins, while they entered the new “San Mames” in September.
Valverde continues on the bench for the second season and has as his main objective “to play even more beautiful football” as he says characteristically.
In transfer market they lost their talented and important midfielder Ander Herrera (Manchester United), earning 36 million euros.
Some players who were on loan returned and some others came from the second team. The only normal transfer is Borja Viguera from Alaves, top scorer last year in Segunda Division with 25 goals. They are expected to move for Monreal (defender, Arsenal) and Illarramendi (midfielder, Real), only if they get the ticket for the Champions League groups.
“We face the two games with a lot of optimism and responsibility. I know Benitez has studied and is preparing well for the match. The truth is that the two teams have nothing to hide” Ernesto Valverde said inter alia.