The UEFA Champions League returns after a brief hiatus owing to the international break. Real Madrid welcome Napoli at the Santiago Bernabeu as they aim to win and solidify their grip at the summit of Group C.
Carlo Ancelotti will lead Madrid into this Champions League encounter against his former club, already assured of a spot in the knockout stage. With four consecutive wins in the group, Madrid stand as significant favorites to progress as group winners, needing just a point in this fixture to secure seeding for the last 16 draw in December.
Madrid’s formidable home record add to their favor, having not suffered a home defeat since early April. They have won eight of their last nine Champions League home games, with a draw against Manchester City in last season’s semi-final as the sole exception. The quest for the top spot in the group provides an additional incentive for Ancelotti’s team as they aim to maintain their impressive form in the competition.
Los Blancos boast an impressive recent record against Italian teams, winning all of their last nine encounters, including a 3-2 victory at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on matchday two of the Champions League. Heading into this fixture, Madrid only need a clean sheet to secure their position, and their home defense has been formidable this season despite key injuries to players like Thibaut Courtois and Eder Militao.
However, maintaining a strong defensive record at home has been a hallmark of their campaign. Notably, in the Champions League, their 3-0 victory over Braga on matchday four secured their progression to the last 16, with stand-in keeper Andriy Lunin making an early penalty save in that game.
Ancelotti’s Real Madrid claimed a 3-0 victory over Cadiz, propelling them to the top of La Liga. Napoli have the opportunity to secure a spot in the last 16 by winning or matching Braga’s result against Union Berlin
Union Berlin’s struggle in the Champions League means Napoli will secure European places. Right now, the second spot is up for grabs, and victory over Madrid will all but secure Gli Azzurri’s place in the round of 16.
Napoli aim for a fifth consecutive progression past a UEFA group stage, seeking to replicate last season’s success when they reached the quarter-finals, establishing a new club record. However, this season has been marked by turmoil compared to the highs under Luciano Spalletti, with Rudi Garcia being sacked during the international break merely four months into the campaign. Garcia’s dismissal followed a home defeat to Empoli, occurring shortly after Napoli were held to draw by Union Berlin, a team enduring a 12-game losing streak at the time.
Walter Mazzarri has returned to Naples for a second stint at the club and is set to face Madrid for the first time in his managerial career. His latest stint began on a positive note with a 2-1 victory against Atalanta, secured by a late winner from Elif Elmas. Napoli’s impressive away form continue, boasting seven wins in nine matches this season, with only minor setbacks in draws against Genoa and Bologna. Additionally, they have maintained an average of over two goals per game in these nine outings.
- Location: Madrid, Spain
- Stadium: Estadio Santiago Bernabeu
- Date: Wednesday 29 November
- Kick-off time: 20:00 GMT / 15:00 ET / 12:00 PT
- Referee: Francois Letexier
- VAR: Jerome Brisard
- Tickets: Tickets are sold out via club channels but supporters can buy Champions League tickets via trusted resellers such as seatsnet.
Players to Watch
Jude Bellingham – Real Madrid
While Jude Bellingham has been a standout player for Real Madrid this season, his versatility and dynamic midfield presence could prove crucial for the team. His relentless ball recovery and driving abilities may enhance Real Madrid’s control and energy in the center of the pitch. Bellingham’s tactical understanding could play a vital role in disrupting Napoli’s rhythm and setting up counter-attacks. The fans will be anticipating his significant contribution, including the possibility of scoring having scored in the first fixture.
Victor Osimhen – Napoli
Victor Osimhen’s quickness and precise finishing make him a formidable threat to Napoli’s attack. His teamwork and lethal goal-scoring instincts could challenge Real Madrid’s defense. Napoli’s attacking strategy might heavily depend on Osimhen’s off-the-ball movement and ability to create opportunities, aiming to exploit any defensive weaknesses in Real Madrid. A potential partnership with Kvicha Kvaratskhelia could contribute to scoring quick goals and securing a crucial victory in this important game.
Real Madrid v Napoli team news
Carlo Ancelotti might opt to rotate and protect some Real Madrid players showing signs of fitness issues, especially considering they only need a point.
Luka Modric, dealing with a slight muscular problem, could be given a break. Despite injury concerns, Jude Bellingham and Rodrygo might feature again after starring in the weekend win at Cadiz. Injuries to key players like Vinicius Junior, Aurelien Tchouameni, and Eduardo Camavinga mean there’s a chance for fringe players to feature.
Brahim Diaz’s availability is uncertain due to illness, while Eder Militao and Thibaut Courtois remain long-term absentees. Andriy Lunin put up a heroic display on matchday four against Braga, and will likely start in goal, considering Kepa Arrizabalaga’s injury and Courtois’s extended absence.
Napoli face a left-back crisis with Mathias Olivera’s injury, joining Mario Rui on the sidelines. Juan Jesus is a likely replacement, while Amir Rrahmani and Natan are set to start in the center. Victor Osimhen’s comeback could see him replace Giacomo Raspadori in the starting lineup after an impactful return in the weekend win.
Predicted starting line-up
Real Madrid starting line-up: Lunin; Carvajal, Rudiger, Alaba, Mendy; Kroos, Modric, Valverde; Bellingham; Rodrygo, Joselu.
Napoli predicted starting line-up: Meret; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Ostigard, Oliveira; Lobotka, Anguissa, Zielinski; Politano, Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia.
Real Madrid v Napoli prediction
Madrid only need a draw to secure their place as group winners, and despite numerous injury concerns, they are likely to maintain their strong home record in the competition. While Walter Mazzarri’s appointment at Napoli might not have generated much excitement, his tenure began positively with a win over Atalanta.
The previous encounter between the two teams showed Madrid’s supremacy in this competition, defeating Gli Azzurri 3:2 including a rocket strike by Federico Valverde to give Madrid all three points.
Napoli are now fueled by a greater sense of urgency and could potentially cause an upset. Madrid have been highly efficient this season, especially at home and losing could prove unlikely. However, a shared outcome seems plausible, setting the stage for another entertaining clash between these two sides.
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