Having accounted for AFC Ajax, OGC Nice will head for SSC Napoli full of confidence as they aim to take the final qualification step in their first UEFA Champions League campaign.
• The clubs met in pre-season friendlies in 2015 and 2016, with Nice winning 3-2 at home and Napoli prevailing 3-0 at the Stadio San Paolo 12 months later.
• Napoli’s record in eight matches against French teams in UEFA competition is: W4 D2 L2.
• The Italian side’s knockout record in UEFA competition against Ligue 1 clubs is W1 L2, with all three ties coming in the UEFA Cup; they beat FC Girondins Bordeaux 1-0 on aggregate in the 1988/89 third round but lost on penalties to Toulouse FC in the first round in 1986/87 and were eliminated by Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 over two legs in the 1992/93 second round.
• Nice have never met Serie A opposition in UEFA competition.
• Napoli are seeking to reach the group stage for the fourth time, after their campaigns in 2011/12, 2013/14 and 2016/17.
• In 2016/17 the Partenopei lost to eventual champions Real Madrid CF in the round of 16, going down 3-1 away and at home.
• That home reverse to Madrid was only Napoli’s second defeat in their last 21 European fixtures (W13 D6) at the Stadio San Paolo.
• The Italian outfit lost their only previous play-off tie, against Athletic Club in 2014/15.
• Nice ousted AFC Ajax on away goals in the third qualifying round, going through after a 1-1 home draw and 2-2 draw in Amsterdam.
• This is Nice’s first UEFA Champions League campaign, and just their third in the European Cup overall. Their last before this came in 1959/60, when they got to the quarter-finals, as they had on their debut in 1956/57 – both campaigns were ended by eventual winners Madrid.
• In 2016/17, Nice finished fourth in their UEFA Europa League group – the first time they had participated in that stage of the competition.
• The French club have won only one of their 20 away games in UEFA competition, 1-0 at FC Salzburg in last season’s UEFA Europa League group stage. Otherwise their record is D5 L14.
Team and coach links
• Mario Balotelli has faced Napoli six times in his career (D1 L5). He scored against the Vesuviani for Manchester City FC during the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League group stage and for AC Milan in a 2-1 home defeat in September 2013.
• Pepe Reina saved a Balotelli penalty in that 2013 fixture. The forward was then sent off after the final whistle.
• New Nice signing Wesley Sneijder played in Italy for FC Internazionale Milano from August 2009 to January 2013, winning the UEFA Champions League, the Scudetto and the Coppa Italia in 2010.
• Napoli’s Adam Ounas (Bordeaux), Kalidou Koulibaly (FC Metz) and Faouzi Ghoulam (AS Saint-Étienne) have experience of French football.
• Naples-born Maurizio Sarri replaced Rafael Benítez when the Spaniard left Napoli for Madrid at the end of the 2014/15 campaign. Having spent much of his career in the lower leagues, Sarri led Empoli FC into Serie A in 2013/14 and kept them up comfortably before quitting to join Napoli.
• Lucien Favre took charge of Nice in summer 2016, steering them to a third-place finish in Ligue 1. Twice a title winner with FC Zürich in his native Switzerland, he made a positive impression in Germany with Hertha BSC Berlin and VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach. He was capped 24 times as a midfielder.