Real Madrid vs Napoli

Estadio Santiago Bernabeu forms the backdrop for a mouth-watering Champions League showdown between Real Madrid and Napoli.

Real Madrid flew out of the traps upon La Liga’s return from the international break as Jude Bellingham added to his tally to inspire his side to a 3-0 victory at Cadiz, bringing them back to the top of the table. Brimming with confidence after three consecutive wins in all competitions, ‘Los Blancos’ turn to European duties, having already secured qualification for the Champions League knockouts, courtesy of a four-game winning start to Group C. A draw here would see them progress as group winners, but expectations are higher after the 14-time European champions won eight of their last nine Champions League games on home turf (D1). Furthermore, barring an unfathomable 0-0 league draw against Rayo Vallecano earlier this month, ‘Los Merengues’ have won all seven remaining home outings in 2023/24, including a 5-1 thumping of Valencia last time out.

On the other hand, Napoli’s Champions League campaign stuttered in the previous round as they wasted a half-time lead in a 1-1 home draw against Union Berlin, letting third-placed Braga reduce the gap to three points. A disastrous 1-0 home defeat to Serie A minnows Empoli in the follow-up spelled the end of Rudi Garcia’s disappointing managerial tenure at the Diego Maradona Stadium. Walter Mazzarri has returned to southern Italy with a much-needed 2-1 triumph against Atalanta at the weekend, extending Napoli’s impressive winning streak on hostile turf to five matches. But the experienced tactician may need a miracle to make it two from two, at least looking at his underwhelming managerial record against Ancelotti (W3, D2, L8). Adding to this sentiment, Napoli’s two previous visits to the Bernabeu have yielded defeats via multi-goal margins.

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