Thursday, September 21, 2017

Prediction: Real Madrid vs Napoli


Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 5/8

Bookmaker: bet365

Champions League holders could face a tough task in the first knockout stage as they will be up against Napoli, one of Europe’s in-form sides. Los Blancos remain the favourites to progress to the next stage, but we believe the Azzurri can definitely make life difficult for their more illustrious opponents.

Real Madrid

While they unexpectedly crashed out of Copa del Rey, thus ruining their chances of winning a treble of titles, Real Madrid are on track in both La Liga and the Champions League. Los Blancos boast a one-point advantage over Barcelona in the league standings, but have two games in hand, meaning the league trophy is theirs to lose. Meanwhile, Zinedine Zidane’s charges failed to win the first place in their Champions League group and will now be vying in-form Napoli for a place in the quarter-finals. Numerous injury worries are definitely one of the reasons why Real Madrid were not always at their best since the turn of the year, as the team have only three wins in last seven fixtures. Los Blancos, however, improved their confidence thanks to back to back wins over Real Sociedad and Osasuna, and with several important players now back in contention, they have reason for optimism ahead of the high-profile clash against Napoli. Gareth Bale is the only star player that will be missing the game against the Azzurri despite the fact that he has now resumed light training, with the Welshman pencilled to return into action in about a month.

Team News

With full-backs Marcelo and Daniel Carvajal now fully fit, Zinedine Zidane will revert to his favourite 4-3-3 formation, with Casemiro, Kroos and Modric set to play together for the first time in over three weeks.

The only dilemma the Frenchman has is whether to start Isco or Lucas Vazquez on the right wing, as both players have been in fine form of late.

Napoli

Many believed that Napoli would crumble when they were forced to sell star striker Gonzalo Higuain to arch rivals Juventus, but the Azzurri instead had no problems compensating for the Argentine’s departure, and they seem to be playing even better football than last year. Maurizio Sarri’s experiment with Dries Mertens as a false nine proved a real masterstroke as the Belgian has been so impressive in his new role that both Arkadiusz Milik and Leonardo Pavoletti are now struggling to get the sniff of first team action. Usual suspects Jose Callejon, Marek Hamsik and Lorenzo Insigne have been in fine form as well, whereas summer recruits Piotr Zielinski and Amadou Diawara were able to fit in much earlier than expected. And while Napoli still sit nine points behind Serie A leaders Juventus, they are on the right track to secure top 3 finish and will certainly try to mount a serious title challenge if an opportunity arises. Meanwhile, the Azzurri face the toughest task of all in the Champions League as they are up against reigning champions, but we are backing them to prove their worth at Santiago Bernabeu.

Team News

Jose Callejon and Elseid Hysal return from a domestic suspension, whereas Dries Mertens will continue in the false nine role.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Real Madrid and Napoli have never met before
  • Los Blancos are unbeaten in last 10 CL fixtures (W6 D4)
  • Real won eight of last nine home games in the Champions League
  • Napoli scored in last six Champions League matches on the road (W3 D1 L2)
  • Both teams got on the scoresheet in each of those games

Conclusion

Real Madrid will be nearly at full strength for the first time in weeks and they have rightly been made favourites, but with Napoli on top of their game at the moment, we are backing the Azzurri to score at least one at Santiago Bernabeu.

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 5/8

Bookmaker: bet365

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