As the UEFA Europa League Tournament continues and we move on to the Round of 32, the contenders will be separated from the pretenders, sooner rather than later.
Some teams that still remain in the tournament will need to get lucky with their draws to advance much further.
If not, these two teams could be exiting the tournament much earlier than first hoped.
The Napoli Football Club is coming off a convincing home loss at the hands of PSV Eindhoven. Eindhoven, whom won't even qualify for the round of 32, is not even close to the level of opponents that Napoli will face later on.
In addition, Napoli has struggled in games as the visiting team, amassing just one win in group play in that position.
It is unlikely that they are to continue on in the tournament much longer, but if they have any chance, the defense must play better. To this point, they have given up 12 goals in just six matches against one of the tournament's weaker groups.
Basel, capturing the second qualifying position from Group G play, will be hard pressed to earn a draw in the next round, in which they are favored to win.
Also in one of the tournament's weaker groups, Basel has managed just two wins and a total of seven goals in six matches. The defense has been strong, with four clean sheets in group play, but they won't advance against the stronger teams without better scoring.
Undefeated at home and winless on the road, their prospects of lasting much longer are extremely unlikely. Basel will rely on leading goal scorer, Marco Streller (with three goals to date), for even better performances moving forward.
Anything can happen when we move on to the knockout phase of the UEFA Europa League Tournament.
However, if these two teams, among several others, can't come away with a favorable draw, their play thus far suggests they will be among the first teams eliminated.
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