The Nerazzuri have been in scintillating form this season. They top the Serie A table and will be going toe-to-toe with Juventus for the Italian throne in the second half of the season. A shock defeat to Sassuolo earlier in the campaign remains their only domestic defeat and they also remain undefeated in the Champions League.
Simone Inzaghi’s team lost the Champions League final last season, and have won the competition three times in their decorated history. From that team, key departures such as André Onana and Marcelo Brozovic were replaced by the likes of Yann Sommer, Marcus Thuram and Benjamin Pavard - all of whom were familiar opponents for BVB in the Bundesliga last season. Not only did they add quality to the squad, but have blended a perfect balance between youth and experience in their pursuit of silverware. A draw against Inter would also result in a reunion with former Borussia Dortmund player Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Real Sociedad marginally pipped Inter to first place in Group D despite finishing with the same 12 points. They would - on paper - prove to be Dortmund’s toughest draw, led by the in-form Lautaro Martinez.
Napoli reached the summit of Italian football last season by winning their first Serie A title in 33 years. Since then, their momentum has sizzled down in all senses despite keeping the core of their team minus defender Kim Min-jae and manager Luciano Spalletti.
The Italy manager’s successor was not so successful, and Rudi Garcia was sacked as his team trailed Inter Milan by 10 points in November. He was replaced by Walter Mazzarri until the end of the season, who has endured a bipolar win-loss record since his appointment. However, qualification into the Champions League last 16 means that the Partenopei will be playing in the knockout rounds for the third season in a row.
Consistency is the foundation of any success, and that is of the utmost importance for Napoli’s pursuit of silverware in the second half of the season. They won’t reach the heights of last season, but the team will be heavily more familiar with what Mazzarri commands by February and would prove to be a tricky opposition as the likes of Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and Victor Osimhen would provide a stern test for BVB.