Real Madrid v Napoli: Expect a goal-scoring bonanza at the Bernabeu
Back when the Champions League last-16 draw was made, few would have raised eyebrows at Real Madrid v Napoli. But as the game approaches, it could prove to be the most spectacular of the lot.
At the time of the draw, Real were in the middle of a 40-game unbeaten run, while Napoli had won just six of their last 14, and many deemed this tie a foregone conclusion.
But since Sevilla finally got the better of Zinedine Zidane’s men last month, the La Liga side have been out of sorts.
Real have failed to win four of their last seven games, although 15 goals suggest the problems don’t lie up front.
Napoli though, have gone on a barnstorming run of form, winning 12 and drawing four of their last 16 games.
But it’s the manner in which Gli Azzurri have gone about that success which makes this fixture so potentially fantastic.
Maurizio Sarri’s men have hammered in 40 goals in their last 13 fixtures, netting five or more on three separate occasions.
And all from a side whose pre-season hopes were smashed when Gonzalo Higuain left to join Juventus, while replacement Arkadiuisz Milik has missed much of the season through a cruciate ligament injury.
Dries Mertens has been the main beneficiary of Higuain’s departure, and the Belgian has 13 goals and five assists in his last nine league games.
And with four goals and four assists in the group stage, the 29-year-old has been top class all season.
It’s probably about time we mentioned Cristiano Ronaldo, with the Portuguese ace 5/2 favourite to score first.
With four goals in his last five league games, Ronaldo is certainly in better form than Karim Benzema, who has one in nine.
And the pair are each tempting at 21/10 to bag a goal at any point, with Real keeping one clean sheet in seven.
Amazingly it’s been 29 years since these sides came across each other in European competition. Back then, Real ousted a Diego Maradona-led Napoli with a 2-0 home win and a 1-1 draw in Naples.
But this time around, we should expect far more drama, and far more goals.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing