Real Madrid will take a 3-1 lead to Naples in three weeks time after brushing aside Napoli 3-1 in the UEFA Champion’s League. I was at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night and what a night it was.
Napoli went into the game unbeaten from late October but the travelling fans from Italy were not expecting a victory so it surprised the 3,500 that travelled to Madrid as Lorenzo Insigne put them ahead on seven minutes.
Keylor Navas has to answer his critics once again as he was standing too far off his line allowing Insigne to curl the ball beyond him and into the net. However, Real Madrid responded like champions and equalised through Karim Benzema as he headed a sublime Dani Carvajal cross past Pepe Reina.
Cristiano Ronaldo was used more as a provider breaking yet another record as he became the top assister in Champions League history as he pulled the ball back for Toni Kross to put the Galacticos into the lead.
Casimero then put more gloss on the score with a sensational strike from range after Napoli had tried to play out from the back and panicking attempting to deal with Real Madrid’s high press.
Napoli, like I have mentioned, dealt with Ronaldo quite well often having two players on them but their three at the back system did not work with former Real Madrid defender Raul Albiol getting caught out by Benzema’s movement .
A disadvantage for Zinedine Zidane’s side was that Marcelo and Carvajal going forward often left just two at the back in the form of Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane.
If Real Madrid want their 12th Champions League trophy, the defence must tighten up at the back as they have a tendency of leaking far to many goals. This tie is far from dead in the water as if Napoli score early at home, the fans will be right behind them .
Luka Modric and Kroos deserve so much credit as they dedicated the tempo of the game taking Napoli’s danger men out of the match Jose Callejon on his return to Madrid and Dries Mertens.
The second leg is on the 7th March and Zidane knows that his side will have to travel with full concentration and attention into the game .
Article by – Josh Bunting – Twitter @Distillerymad