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Thursday 8 December 2016

Napoli wary of big Dnipro threat

Napoli's Marek Hamsik celebrates
Napoli's Marek Hamsik celebrates

Napoli captain Marek Hamsik has warned his team-mates not to underestimate Dnipro when they host the Ukrainian giants in Thursday’s Europa League semi-final first-leg clash.

Dnipro have beaten Olympiacos, Ajax and Club Brugge to reach their first-ever European semi-final.

“Perhaps Dnipro are not as famous as (Europa League semi-finalists) Sevilla and Fiorentina, but they remain a very good side,” Hamsik (pictured right) said.

“They have eliminated big clubs to reach the last four of the competition.

“We are talking about a team that has shown balance and is in good form.

“They have lost just twice in 2015, against Shakhtar Donetsk and Ajax.

“They have an excellent defensive line that has conceded just two goals in their last 10 games.

“We will need to be patient and play our game.”

Dnipro warmed up for the encounter in Naples with a 3-0 triumph at Odessa on Sunday that lifted them to second place in the Ukrainian Premier League, six points adrift of league leaders Dynamo Kiev.

Myron Markevych’s men will, however, have to step up their game if they are to surprise Napoli at the San Paolo stadium.

Dnipro have lost their last five games against Italian sides and fell 4-2 at Napoli in the Europa League group stages back in the 2012-13 campaign.

Moreover, Napoli are unbeaten in 12 European home games while Dnipro have won just one of their last 10 European encounters on the road.

“We know it’s going to be very difficult,” Dnipro striker Nikola Kalinic said. “Napoli are very strong.

“But we want to make history and win the Europa League.”

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