Saturday, April 29, 2017

Prediction: Napoli vs Real Madrid


Verdict: Over 3.5 goals

Best Odds: 5/4

Bookmaker: William Hill

Even though their beloved team appear to have missed a good chance in the first leg, Napoli faithful will be hoping to help create a historic night for the club when the Azzurri take on holders Real Madrid. Los Blancos carry a two-goal advantage into the Stadio San Paolo clash, but they cannot exactly afford to relax just yet.

Napoli

Napoli have shown a great deal of promise in both Italy and Europe over the last few years, but some under-par showings in high-profile matches are enough to suggest they are still not ready to challenge for major honours. The 3-1 loss to Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabey was one such game, where the Azzurri took the lead, but then crumbled under pressure, failing to produce what was expected of them. This means they face an uphill task in the return leg, but not exactly mission impossible as Mauricio Sarri’s side do have the potential to spring a major surprise if they play to the best of their abilities. The weekend’s 2-1 triumph over Serie A title rivals AS Roma could go a long way towards making sure the players are in the best possible spirits for the Real Madrid game, and there are no doubts the Azzurri will attempt to build on said result. After scoring yet another brace to take his goal tally to 22, Dries Mertens will be looking to make life difficult for the Real Madrid defenders in his false nine role, with Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne looking to do the damage from the wings.

Team News

Maurizio Sarri will have fully fit squad to select from, and he could field an unchanged side from the AS Roma game, although Piotr Zielinski is pushing for a return.

Real Madrid

For the first time after quite a while, Real Madrid no longer lead the chase in Spanish La Liga, as they trail bitter rivals Barcelona by one point, albeit having a game in hand. Unexpected setbacks against Valencia and Las Palmas have seriously damaged club’s title hopes, although they have since gotten their league campaign back on track. After scoring two late goals with ten men to avoid defeat to Las Palmas, Real Madrid produced a very good showing against high-flying Eibar, securing a 4-1 victory despite playing without Bale, Ronaldo, Kroos and few other first team regulars. Even if their performances of late have been far from impressive, at least los Blancos are well rested for the high-profile clash against Napoli, with only Keylor Navas and Sergio Ramos spending more than 90 minutes on the pitch in the last two games. Team’s away form in the Champions League has been pretty disappointing, although a four-match winless run came to an end at Estadio Jose Alvalade back in November. Real Madrid did, however, score 7 goals in last three away matches in UCL.

Team News

Cristiano Ronaldo and Fabio Coentrao have resumed full training, but Raphael Varane remains sidelined. Gareth Bale may not start as he still lacks match fitness.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Both teams scored in Real’s last three away matches in UCL
  • Both teams scored in Real’s last seven away games in all competitions
  • Napoli won 7 of last 11 home games in UCL (D3 L1)
  • Both teams scored in eight of those games
  • Zidane rested quite a few starters at the weekend

Conclusion

Napoli have no choice but to attack from the off in an attempt to overturn a two-goal deficit, but they will have to be wary of Real’s deadly counterattacks. Taking everything into consideration, we expect to see goals galore at Stadio San Paolo.

Verdict: Over 3.5 goals

Best Odds: 5/4

Bookmaker: William Hill

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