Mar 7, 2017 07:30:00
Zinedine Zidane's side are looking to seal the deal by holding on to their 3-1 aggregate lead when they visit Italy in the Champions League on Tuesday
Real Madrid are looking to continue their defence of the Champions League by seeing off Napoli in the second leg of their last-16 tie on Tuesday night.
Zinedine Zidane's side established a 3-1 aggregate lead at the Santiago Bernabeu and will only need to avoid disaster to book their place in the next round.
They will have to keep out a high-powered Napoli attack, however, that has scored more goals (62) than any other team in Serie A this season.
|Game||Napoli vs. Real Madrid|
|Date||Tuesday, March 7, 2017|
|Time||7:45pm GMT, 2:45pm ET|
TV CHANNEL & LIVE STREAM
In the UK, the match will be available to watch live on television on BT Sport 3 and by stream via the BT Sport app, with coverage beginning at 7pm GMT.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|BT Sport 3||BT Sport app|
In the US, the match will be available to watch live on television on FS2 and by stream via Fox Soccer 2Go, with coverage beginning at 2pm ET and 11am PT.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|FS2||Fox Soccer 2Go|
SQUADS & TEAM NEWS
|Position||Real Madrid players|
|Goalkeepers||Navas, Casilla, Yanez|
|Defenders||Carvajal, Pepe, Ramos, Nacho, Marcelo, Danilo|
|Midfielders||Kroos, James, Casemiro, Kovacic, Modric, Asensio, Isco|
|Forwards||Ronaldo, Benzema, Bale, Vazquez, Mariano, Morata|
Raphael Varane (thigh) and Fabio Coentrao are the only players missing for Real Madrid, who welcome Cristiano Ronaldo back into the fold after he missed the 4-1 win over Eibar in La Liga with a muscle issue.
Zidane was also without Gareth Bale and Alvaro Morata against Eibar due to suspension, but both will be available in Naples. The Welshman is likely to replace James Rodriguez from the team that won the first leg, with Pepe coming in for Varane in the only other change.
Luka Modric and Sergio Ramos will miss their next match in the Champions League if they are booked.
Potential starting XI: Navas; Carvajal, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Modric, Casemiro, Kroos; Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo.
|Goalkeepers||Cabral, Sepe, Reina|
|Defenders||Hysaj, Strinic, Maggio, Maksimovic, Chiriches, Koulibaly, Ghoulam, Albiol|
|Midfielders||Giaccherini, Allan, Jorginho, Hamsik, Zielinski, Rog, Diawara|
|Forwards||Callejon, Mertens, Insigne, Pavoletti, Milik|
Dries Mertens was substituted in the latter stages of Napoli's win over Roma at the weekend, but coach Maurizio Sarri believes the in-form forward was only suffering from cramp and will be available to face Madrid.
Sarri may want to get a target man into his team in Arkadiusz Milik for this particular match, however, leaving him with three spots to squeeze Milik, Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon into his starting XI.
Allan is the only other doubt for the hosts but is only likely to be a substitute regardless. Kalidou Koulibaly is one yellow card away from a suspension.
Potential starting XI: Reina; Hysaj, Koulibaly, Albiol, Ghoulam; Zielinski, Diawara, Hamsik; Mertens, Milik, Insigne.
BETTING & GAME ODDS
Real Madrid can be backed at a best price of 6/4 at the time of writing according to Oddschecker, with Napoli available at 191/100 and the draw at 73/25. Madrid are heavy favourites when it comes to which team will qualify for the quarter-finals, with 1/9 the best odds available there and Napoli as long as 50/7.
The bookies fancy Cristiano Ronaldo to score first, with 7/2 offered by most outlets. From the home side, Arkadiusz Milik and Dries Mertens – despite the question over his fitness – can be backed at 5/1 and Karim Benzema and Alvaro Morata are slightly further out at 6/1.
With Barcelona showing they are still up for the fight in La Liga, Real Madrid will be relieved to have a fairly comfortable two-goal lead going into the second leg of this tie at Stadio San Paolo.
It will not be straightforward by any means – Napoli showed by grabbing an away goal that they are capable of broaching the Madrid defence – but if Zinedine Zidane's men can score the first goal of the match they will be all but home and dry and able to slow down the pace of the game.
That is going to become priceless wherever possible, whether it be in the league or in Europe, as the season winds down to the games that really matter.
Madrid have a remarkable record since Zidane took over and, as they face the challenge of competing on multiple fronts, can take heart from the fact that they ended last season on a 12-game win streak in the league in addition to being crowned continental champions for an 11th time.
They may have been playing catch-up to Barcelona this time last year but proved, at least, that their squad can handle the strain of two matches a week without missing a beat.
Napoli will attempt to make it complicated for Los Blancos and have attacking firepower in abundance. With Arkadiusz Milik back from injury but Dries Mertens having discovered a deadly touch as a centre forward in the meantime, Sarri will have to figure out how to fit the two of them, Jose Callejon, Lorenzo Insigne and Marek Hamsik into the same team.
With the Coppa Italia also remaining on their plate, Sarri's men have it even tougher than Madrid in terms of juggling competitions and have lost to Atalanta in the league and Juventus in the cup in recent weeks.
As much as they would love for their Champions League run to continue, they will be able to return their focus to catching Roma for second place in Italy barring a huge shock here.