Real Madrid resumes their Champions League title defence on Wednesday night as they host Serie A side Napoli in the first leg of the round of 16 at the Santiago Bernabeu, and the hosts are widely regarded as favourites to advance to the quarters.
However, it won’t be a walk in the park for Zinedine Zidane’s given the form of the visitors both domestically and on the continent. The Partenopei topped their group and are currently third on the Serie A log after 24 rounds of games, and considering the quality of their players, it’s bound to be a cracker of an encounter.
Real Madrid are only without Bale for the clash, and Zidane has a strong squad to draw from when the Italians visit.
The Spanish giants could have a starting XI similar to this:
Formation : 4-3-3
GK – Navas
Remains Real Madrid’s number 1 goalie for the Champions League having mounted the goal for all but just 1 of the group stage games.
Has to be in great form to keep out the visitors and prevent them from having an away-goal advantage.
LB – Marcelo
Was involved in 4 of the group games and while he didn’t create or score a goal, he remains one of Madrid’s biggest attacking threats.
CB – Varane
The 23-year-old has played every minute of Los Blancos’ Champions League campaign thus far, scoring twice – more than any defender and he would be expected to remain a threat at both ends of the pitch aerially.
CB – Ramos
Known for scoring crucial goals at such crucial part of the campaign, Zidane would hope his skipper can lead his side to victory with some impressive displays at both ends of the pitch.
RB – Carvajal
The Spaniard continues to provide excellent services for the Spanish giants on the right of the defence and is expected to do so against the Italians having overcome recent fitness issues.
LM – Kroos
Despite topping the assists charts in the La Liga, the German is yet to have a hand in any of Real Madrid’s goals in Europe.
There wouldn’t be a better time to start doing so than this stage.
RM – Modric
Returned to action at the weekend after spending some little time on the injury sidelines and would be expected to help call the shots for Madrid in the middle of the park on Wednesday.
CM – Casemiro
Injury has restricted the blocking midfielder to just 2 Champions League appearances this term, but he is now set to play an important role in the knockout stages.
LW – Ronaldo
2 goals in Europe till now are a far cry from the 11 he had scored at this same stage last term but it can always be expected he pops up at the crucial moments.
CF – Benzema
Following 4 goals in the group stages, the French striker became the 6th player ever to reach 50 Champions League goals, and much more would be expected of him on Wednesday as Madrid attempt to become the first team to win back to back titles.
RW – Vazquez
With Bale yet to near full fitness, the Spaniard should be making yet another appearance and he remains a silent threat.