Football Bet of the Day: Neapolitans to lick Sparta
It's been a tough week so far for Kevin Hatchard, but he is undeterred as he goes in search of profit in southern Italy...
"Napoli's home record in Europe last season was very strong, with Champions League wins over Borussia Dortmund, Marseille and Arsenal."
Napoli v Sparta Prague
Thursday September 18, 20:05
Live on BT Sport 1
In a slight adaptation of a painfully bad 1997 hit from Vanilla, it was a case of "No Kray, No Kray" (man-ah-man-ah) for us last night, as FC Kray were held to a 0-0 draw away to Sportfreunde Siegen. The home side clung on for their first point of the season, and as such we were denied a chunky winner. Are we going to give up and go quietly into the night? Hell, no.
I'm tempted to make our first trip of the week to South America, but we'll stay in Europe for now, and a Europa League encounter between Napoli and Sparta Prague. Manager Rafa Benitez is under pressure at the San Paolo after failing to qualify for the Champions League group stage (Napoli lost 4-2 on aggregate to Athletic Bilbao), and losing the team's opening Serie A home game 1-0 to Chievo.
Benitez has demanded a response, and I expect it to come in this fixture against Czech champions Sparta Prague. Napoli were unlucky to lose to Chievo - they had 20 goal attempts and a string of clear-cut chances (including a missed penalty from Gonzalo Higuain), and dominated the game. Former Swansea duo Michu and Jonathan De Guzman could feature in a strong side - Italian clubs are sometimes accused of not taking this competition seriously, but Benitez knows failure to win this game will do his job security no favours.
Sparta Prague are strong domestically, but they haven't won an away game in Europe for over two years. They are also without some important players - promising 22-year-old striker Tomas Prikryl is injured, while key midfielder Lukas Vacha is suspended.
Napoli's home record in Europe last season was very good - they secured Champions League wins against Borussia Dortmund, Marseille and Arsenal, and in the Europa League they beat Swansea 3-1 before a 2-2 draw with Porto ended their campaign.
Even if Benitez shuffles his pack, the side he picks should be strong enough to win this. Given that we are looking for our first winner of the week, I could just tip the home win at [1.56], but I can see Napoli winning this comfortably, so let's back them -1.0 on the Asian Handicap.
Back Napoli -1.0 on the Asian Handicap at [1.91]
2014 P/L (1pt per bet)
Points Staked: 24
Points Returned: 21.12
P/L: -2.88 points