MILAN (AFP) – Argentina striker Gonzalo Higuain returns from a one-match suspension as Napoli look to boost their Champions League qualifying bid away to Torino this weekend, when struggling title hopefuls Roma host runaway leaders Juventus.
Napoli booked their place in the last 16 of the Europa League thanks to a 5-0 aggregate victory over Trabzonspor on Thursday having dominated the first leg in Turkey 4-0.
But a place in Europe’s premier club competition is the target for Rafael Benitez’s side and a win at Torino would close their three-point deficit to second-placed Roma ahead of their clash clash against champions Juventus at the Stadio Olimpico.
Roma’s chances of stopping Juventus from claiming a fourth consecutive scudetto have faded significantly in a remarkable six-week period that has seen the Giallorossi held to six draws in seven league games.
And Benitez’s side are ready to capitalise. He said prior to Thursday’s win:
“We respect all our opponents, but I think we’ve sent an important signal to Roma.”
In their recent purple patch Napoli suffered defeat just twice over nine consecutive games on their way to collecting 23 points from a possible 27.
A 2-0 home win over Sassuolo last week came courtesy of goals from Higuain’s deputy, Duvan Zapata, and Marek Hamsik but the Argentine is set to return for Sunday’s trip and what could be a tight game at Torino’s Stadio Olimpico.
On the same night Napoli progressed in Europe, Torino were one of five clubs joining Benitez’s men in the competition’s last 16 after beating Athletic Bilbao over two legs to join Fiorentina, Inter and Roma in the Europa League’s next phase.