Leicester embark on their second consecutive season in the competition and will be aiming to improve on their previous performance. The Foxes were beaten 2-0 by Slavia Prague in the Round of 32, leaving a feeling of disappointment at how their European journey was cut short.
Napoli also put in an underwhelming performance during last season’s Europa League. They were eliminated by Granada in the same round as Brendan Rodgers’ side.
As both teams prepare for an exciting opening game, team selection and player rotation begin to come into play as schedules become busier. So how might both sides line up on Thursday evening?
Throughout the season so far, Rodgers has stuck with his regulars and hasn’t made many unforced changes to his starting 11. However, with the midweek fixtures making the schedule busier, rotation will become key and the Foxes may field some new faces.
There won’t be any changes in goal for Leicester as captain Kasper Schmeichel will lead the team out. There could be some rotation in front of him though with Jonny Evans returning from injury. His recovery may mean Rodgers changes formation to play Evans alongside Jannik Vestergaard and Caglar Soyuncu in a back three.
Timothy Castagne and Ryan Bertrand started in the full-back positions last time out and they are expected to keep their places. Although, Ricardo Pereira could return to rotate with Castagne after being rested at the weekend due to a slight knock he picked up a week ago.
In midfield, Wilfred Ndidi and Youri Tielemans will start. Arguably, they are the most important players in Leicester’s team and will be key to the Foxes chances of going far in the competition.
James Maddison has been ineffective so far this season and maybe one of the big changes to the line-up. There could be a host of replacements including new signing Boubakary Soumare and young prospect Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall. Kelechi Iheanacho could also replace the attacking midfielder if a different formation is utilised.
On the wings, Harvey Barnes and Marc Albrighton started against Manchester City but neither could make a huge difference. Barnes will be expected to keep his place, however, new winger Ademola Lookman, who looked bright at the weekend, may come into the 11 to replace Albrighton.
Last season’s top scorer, Iheanacho, is the favourite to replace Jamie Vardy upfront if he is to be rested. The 34-year-old has started all games so far this season and may need a game to refresh his fitness.
A player who may also start, especially if the formation is changed, is Patson Daka. The Zambian striker is yet to break into the side but his record in Europe and for Salzburg, last campaign proves that he is more than equipped to lead the line.
Predicted Starting Line-Up-
Schmeichel; Evans, Vestergaard, Soyuncu; Castagne, Ndidi, Tielemans, Soumare, Bertrand; Daka, Iheanacho
Luciano Spalletti’s Napoli side have started the season extremely well, winning all three of their league games so far. Compared to Leicester the Italians have made a lot more changes to their line-up for each game, leaving Spalletti’s team selection quite unpredictable.
The defenders and goalkeeper seem to be the only positions in the Napoli squad that are nailed on. Former Arsenal ‘keeper David Ospina will start as Alex Meret is expected to miss out with an injury.
He will have a back four of Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Kostas Manolas, Kalidou Koulibaly and Mario Rui in front of him. Napoli have fielded this defence for all of their games so far so it is expected that they will keep their places in the starting 11.
With usual starting defensive midfielder Stanislav Lobotka injured, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa is expected to start.
He will be flanked by Fabian Ruiz and one of Elif Elmas or Piotr Zielinski. Elmas has started the last two games but Zielinski may claim back his spot on Thursday.
Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen has made the striker position his own this season and will lead the line at the King Power Stadium. He will be flanked by Lorenzo Insigne on the left. The Napoli captain is one of the club’s top scorers in Europe and will cause Leicester plenty of problems.
Either Matteo Politano or Hirving Lozano will occupy the right-hand side. Politano will be the favourite as he has started two of the three games so far and scored against Juventus at the weekend.
Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Rui; Anguissa, Ruiz, Zielinski; Politano, Osimhen, Insigne