Croatian cup winners HNK Rijeka host Serie A high-flyers Napoli in Europa League Group F on Thursday, anchored to the bottom of a challenging section after their 4-1 thumping by surprise group leaders AZ.
The Neapolitan side are much in need of maximum points from their latest continental assignment themselves, as they battle with Spain's Real Sociedad and the Alkmaar club for a place in the knockout stages.
Napoli's opening 0-1 home defeat by the Dutch side was effectively cancelled out by a 1-0 away win of their own in the Basque country - Matteo Politano's deflected long-range strike supplied the Serie A side with three welcome points at the Anoeta.
The Partenopei's win in Sociedad was just their third in 11 European away fixtures - though it was their fourth on the bounce in Europe's second-tier competition - but offers them the opportunity to effectively seal progress in back-to-back games with modest Rijeka.
Napoli's Europa League record is certainly formidable - they have competed in the knockout phase on seven previous occasions and have never failed to qualify, progressing as group winners on the two most recent occasions. Indeed they won all six matches in 2015-16, setting the current record for the most goals scored in a Europa League group, of 22.
However, a disheartening 2-0 defeat to a Sassuolo side decimated by injury and illness on Sunday has left Gattuso regretting his side's inability to keep pace with runaway Serie A leaders AC Milan. Though Napoli dominated large swathes of the contest, their failure to convert chances came back to bite them in the end.
Rijeka also suffered a league loss at the weekend, making it three consecutive defeats in all competitions for the side which currently sit fifth in the Croatian top flight.
In Europe last week, they were two goals down within 20 minutes in Holland, with only a late Sandro Kulenovic consolation strike ever so slightly taking the sting out of an utterly comprehensive defeat.
In many ways, Simon Rozman's side are just glad to be involved at this stage, having snatched a surprise 1-0 victory at Copenhagen in the playoffs to make it into the group stage for the first time in three years. The Croatian club have participated in three previous Europa League group stage campaigns - all between 2013 and 2017 - but have yet to make further progress.
Perhaps the highlight of their involvement has been a group game win against AC Milan in 2017 - their only victory ever against Italian opposition. Thursday's opponents Napoli, meanwhile, are facing Croatian opposition in a European encounter for the very first time.
Two weeks ago, Rijeka were forced in to a postponement of their league game with Gorica, who were overwhelmed by 13 cases of COVID-19 among their players.
Though no cases have been officially communicated by Rijeka since, several players have reportedly experienced symptoms and temperature checks are being regularly conducted, causing coach Rozman to voice concerns that members of the youth squad may even need to be called up to face their illustrious Italian visitors.
If called upon, it will be a case of meeting with familiar faces for Rijeka's Italian defender Armando Anastasio - on a season-long loan to the club from Monza.
The left-back was born in Naples and learned his trade in the Napoli youth structure, so will be all too familiar with the pace, power and ingenuity of the visitors' play, as his new club take on perhaps their toughest test yet.
HNK Rijeka Europa League form: LL
HNK Rijeka form (all competitions): WWWLLL
Napoli Europa League form: LW
Napoli form (all competitions): LWLWWL
Napoli boss Gattuso will implement a considerable turnover of playing resources amid a relentless schedule. Nikola Maksimovic could be paired with Kalidou Koulibaly in central defence, as Kostas Manolas drops out, while German midfielder Diego Demme is tipped to start in place of Fabian Ruiz.
Lorenzo Insigne is in contention to return up front, having completed a training session with his teammates on Monday following a recent thigh strain. However, it is likely that the captain will start on the bench, as Stanislav Lobotka and Hirving Lozano are in line to feature in support of ex-SPAL striker Andrea Petagna.
In light of the many possible COVID-19 cases in the squad, Rijeka coach Rozman will need to improvise, though is expected to field a defensive 5-4-1 set-up.
However, the possible use of the club's Under-19 team is reportedly now being considered in order to fulfil the minimum UEFA requirement of 12 squad members.
HNK Rijeka possible starting lineup:
Nevistic; Tomecak, Galovic, Velkovski, Escoval, Stefulj; Menalo, Pavicic, Andrijasevic, Loncar; Kulenovic
Napoli possible starting lineup:
Ospina; Hysaj, Maksimovic, Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Demme, Zielinski; Politano, Lobotka, Lozano; Petagna
We say: HNK Rijeka 0-3 Napoli
Whichever Rijeka XI takes the field on Thursday, they will be powerless to stop Serie A's Napoli walking away with all three points.
A chasm in class divides the two clubs and Gattuso's side are doubly keen to put aside their weekend woes and stay alive in a three-way tussle with Real Sociedad and AZ for a place in the knockout rounds.