After narrowly missing out on a place in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League, RB Leipzig face a daunting trip to Serie A leaders Napoli in the first leg of the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 on Thursday (kick-off 21:05 CET / 20:05 GMT).


Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side, who finished third behind Porto and Bayern Munich’s last-16 opponents Besiktas in Group G of Europe’s premier club competition, are likely to be bolstered by the return of midfielders Diego Demme and Marcel Sabitzer, who missed Saturday’s 2-0 win against Augsburg through illness. Everton loanee Ademola Lookman, who scored twice in the Toffees’ 3-0 group-stage victory at Apollon Limassol in December, could make his first start for the club, but playmaker Emil Forsberg remains sidelined with a stomach muscle injury.

Former Bayer Leverkusen and Augsburg striker Arkadiusz Milik is closing in on a return from a cruciate knee ligament injury but is unavailable for Thursday’s clash at the Stadio San Paolo. Left-back Faouzi Ghoulam misses out with a similar problem, while former Tottenham Hotspur centre-back Vlad Chiriches is rated as doubtful after sitting out Saturday’s 4-1 victory over Lazio with a muscle strain. Pepe Reina, who enjoyed a one-year spell with Bayern during the 2014/15 season, is set to start in goal.

Watch: Ademola Lookman’s debut goal, against Borussia Mönchengladbach (from 1:41)

Probable line-ups

Napoli: Reina – Hysaj, Tonelli, Koulibaly, Rui – Hamsik (c), Jorginho, Allan – Callejon, Mertens, Insigne
Absentees: Milik, Ghoulam (both knee), Chiriches (muscle strain)
Coach: Maurizio Sarei

Leipzig: Gulacsi – Laimer, Orban (c), Upamecano, Klostermann – Kampl, Demme, Keita – Lookman, Werner, Bruma
Absentees: Halstenberg (knee), Forsberg (stomach)
Coach: Ralph Hasenhüttl

Match stats

  • Leipzig beat 2016/17 Champions League semi-finalists Monaco 4-1 in their most recent away trip in Europe.
  • Germany international Timo Werner has scored in both his side’s last two European away matches.
  • Saturday’s victory over Augsburg lifted Hasenhüttl’s side up to second in the Bundesliga table.
  • RBL goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi was Reina’s team-mate at Liverpool during the 2008/09 campaign.
  • Napoli have only registered a single victory in their last five home games against Bundesliga opposition – against Borussia Dortmund in the 2013/14 Champions League group stage.
  • Lokomotiv Leipzig were beaten 2-0 by Napoli in the second round of the 1988/89 UEFA Cup.

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