Predicted Napoli XI to face Athletic Bilbao: Higuain to be risked

Napoli

Napoli have a crunch Champions League preliminary clash against Athletic Bilbao this evening and Rafa Benitez has two major selection headaches.

Napoli may have been cursing their luck when they drew Spanish side Athletic Bilbao and Rafa Benitez's squad isn't quite at 100 percent for the challenge.

The Partenopei were unlucky in Europe last season, exiting at the Champions League group stage despite securing 12 points in a group with Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund.

This time around, Napoli must negotiate a tough test in their first competitive game of the season to avoid travelling to hostile San Mames needing to overcome the odds.

After an active summer in the market, Napoli arrive at the game without having finalised their transfer activity as deals for Jonathan de Guzman and Marouane Fellaini aren't yet complete.

Henrique, Blerim Dzemaili and Juan Zuniga aren't fit enough to feature and Christian Maggio is expected to start on the right with Faouzi Ghoulam contending with Miguel Britos for the left side.

The centre of defence will almost certainly see a partnership between Raul Albiol and Kalidou Koulibaly with Gokhan Inler expected to play in front of them despite being short of fitness alongside Jorginho.

The trident of Jose Callejon, Marek Hamsik and Lorenzo Insigne are expected to play behind Gonzalo Higuain, but the Argentine striker is only said to be at 80 percent of match fitness and could be a risk.

Bilbao are tipped to field a 4-2-3-1 formation, like Napoli's, and will hope Markel Susaeta, Benat and Iker Muniain can provide the support for Aritz Aduriz to threaten the Napoli back line.

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NAPOLI (probable): Rafael; Maggio, Albiol, Koulibaly, Ghoulam; Inler, Jorginho; Callejon, Hamsik, Insigne; Higuain. Subs: Andujar, Mesto, Britos, Gargano, Mertens, Michu, Duvan 

ATHLETIC BILBAO (probable): Iraizoz; De Marcos, Gurpegi, Laporte, Balenziaga; Iturraspe, Mikel Rico; Susaeta, Benat, Muniain; Aduriz. Subs: Iago Herrerín, Iraola, Erik Morán, San José, Ibai, X.Etxeita, Viguer

Can Napoli beat Athletic Bilbao?

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