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UEFA Europa League: Wolfsburg eyes route past Napoli

Germany's lone representatives in the Europa League feel they can go all the way to the final in Warsaw next month. But Napoli stands before them in the quarterfinals.

Wolfsburg faces its biggest test in Europe this season when it welcomes Italian side Napoli who are coached by UEFA Cup and Champions League winner Rafael Benitez.

That was echoed by head coach Dieter Hecking: "Now this is our biggest challenge of the season."

So far, Wolfsburg has passed every challenge with flying colors. Hecking's men are the best performing side of the second half of the season and have secured a place in the top-four - and a crack at the Champions League next season.

Wolfsburg is unbeaten in seven matches in all competitions, including wins over Inter Milan in the previous round of the tournament. Domestically, the Wolves have collected 60 points in the Bundesliga this season - nine points worse off than the championship-winning campaign of 2008-09.

"This has been a good season for us," Kevin de Bruyne said. "But we could make it even better."

European tasks have been routine for Wolfsburg with the German side losing just once this season and possessing a near immaculate record in league games off the back of Europa League outings. When asked where Napoli's weaknesses were, Hecking responded: "They have none."

"I don't know if we're favorites … however we have enough quality to get through the round," noted Klaus Allofs, the club's sporting director.

Daniel Caligiuri

Wolfsburg overcame Italian opponents in the last round too

Napoli in disarray

The Italians are in a state of flux with a win over Fiorentina in the Italian Serie A on Saturday ending a five-match streak without a win. Napoli is seven points off a Champions League berth and has recently been knocked out of the Italian Cup.

The club's out-spoken owner Aurelio de Laurentiis has ordered the team 'into a training camp indefinitely'. "Napoli is a city full of distractions and now is the time for maximum concentration. Success has to be based on discipline," the boss wrote on Twitter.

Just under a decade ago, Napoli was demoted to the third-tier of Italian football. The club has since, with the financial support of de Laurentiis, rose back to prominence in Italy as they look to rekindle the glory days of 1989 and 1990 when the club won the league title and the UEFA Cup, beating Bundesliga side Stuttgart in the final.

Despite leading the club to a fifth Italian Cup triumph last year, Benitez hasn't been universally popular in Italy. With his contract expiring this summer, the Spaniard is unlikely to be offered an extension; unless, of course, he can secure European glory, starting with a win over Wolfsburg on Thursday.

"We are up against one of the strongest opponents we could have drawn," Benitez said. "They are surely among the favorites to win the trophy and they proved all their strength in the two games against Inter in the last round."

Europa League quarterfinal fixtures:

Wolfsburg vs. Napoli

Dynamo Kyiv vs. Fiorentina

Club Brugge vs. Dnipro

Sevilla vs. Zenit

All matches kick-off at 21:05 CEST