After an early scare, Real Madrid takes a two-goal advantage to Naples in the tie against Napoli.
#RealMadrid defeated SSC Napoli 3-1 at home after Napoli took the lead through Lorenzo Insigne but goals from Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Casemiro canceled out Insigne’s earlier effort. This has given the team the much needed boost in the return leg at the Stadio San Paolo in Naples. This tie also saw Jose Callejon make a comeback to the Santiago Bernabeu after his exit in 2013.
Is the result enough or would Zinedine Zidane and his men need more in the return leg to be able to make a quest for the defense of the UEFA Champions League title?
The result to FC Barcelona on Tuesday night made all the headlines and with Real Madrid going down early in the game, it seemed a repeat of Tuesday’s massacre was on the cards.
Zidane for the first time in as many games deployed Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and James Rodriguez at the same time with James playing on the right side of attack. This provided Zidane’s men enough space to express themselves with the ball and this was evident in the teams comeback win.
Not taking anything away from Real Madrid, the team has coped fairly well without Gareth Bale – who happens to be an integral part of the team. Real Madrid has lost their BBC for the major part of the season but the kind of results the team has achieved is far remarkable compared to the MSN. What is Zidane doing that Enrique has so far failed to?
Real Madrid Has Become a Cohesive Unit
Luis Enrique has built everything around the MSN (Messi, Suarez and Neymar) and when the team cannot find its goalscoring form he takes all the responsibility. To add salt to injury, he has continuously benched Ivan Rakitic – a player who supplements goals of the MSN.
Looking at Real Madrid and the 2016/17 season, particularly the calendar year of 2017, Cristiano Ronaldo has not been on top goalscoring form like he has in previous years but the rest of the squad has collectively taken responsibility for the goalscoring aspects of the game.
Considering Casemiro, a deep-lying anchorman gave Real Madrid its third goal and a two-goal advantage shows how diverse Real Madrid has become, an all-round team that fares well without the BBC and currently the aging Cristiano Ronaldo.
In the second decade of the UEFA Champions League that began as far back as 2011, only Chelsea as defending champions failed to reach the Round of 16 in the 2012/13 campaign. All the others made it to the farthest of the competition and only time would tell if Real Madrid the most successful club in the competitions history would be able to break the jinx and become the first team to win back-to-back titles after the competitions reorganization in 1992.
Real Madrid has a deserved advantage but San Paolo is an arena where the mightiest have fallen this season, therefore Real Madrid should put in an even greater performance to reach the quarter finals. The team returns to domestic action against RCD Espanyol at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday February 18.