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When it comes to the Champions League, Real Madrid reign supreme. The Spanish giants won the first-ever edition of the tournament (back in its European Cup days) in 1955/56. Ever since then they have been the most successful side in the history of the competition.
By some distance too. Madrid are sitting on 14 triumphs right now. AC Milan in second place have lifted the trophy seven times. That underlines how much glory the Blancos have celebrated on the continental stage.
As ever, Madrid are among the favorites with the best online sportsbooks to win this season’s edition. Carlo Ancelotti’s side triumphed the season before last, beating Liverpool in the final. In 2022/23, they reached the last four but were knocked out by eventual winners Manchester City.
Madrid memorably won three Champions Leagues in a row between 2014 and 2016, before again coming out on top in 2018. But the team has evolved since then. The likes of Toni Kroos, Dani Carvajal and Luka Modric remain, but there are plenty of fresh faces within the group too.
Madrid kicked things off with a 1-0 victory over Union Berlin last month. They very nearly dropped two points against the dogged German outfit, who stood firm for most of the match at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
But Madrid finally made a breakthrough in the fourth minute of second-half stoppage time through Jude Bellingham. It was an important result, not least because Napoli away is a tricky fixture for any team in Europe.
Over in La Liga, Madrid have won seven of their first eight matches to occupy the top spot in the table. They warmed up for this match with an excellent 3-0 win at Girona, who had been in first place before that clash at the weekend.
It has been an extraordinary week at Napoli. Their star striker Victor Osimhen has openly feuded with the club, while his agent has suggested that the Nigerian could sue his employers. Even in the crazy world of Italian soccer, this is quite the story.
It is hard not to feel sorry for Osimhen, who was the target of big-money bids from clubs in Saudi Arabia over the summer. Despite the lucrative offers available in that country, Osimhen stayed put.
The beef relates to an astonishing TikTok video released by Napoli which mocked their own player after he missed a penalty in a Serie A game.
An understandably angry Osimhen then removed every photo of him playing for Napoli from his Instagram account. The club subsequently released a statement in which they failed to apologize to the attacker, instead insisting that they “never intended to mock” him.
Osimhen then published his own statement which focused on his bond with the Napoli supporters, but the rift with the club is not over. The striker still managed to score in the 4-0 thrashing of Lecce at the weekend.
Napoli won the Serie A title last term, but they were eliminated from the Champions League by domestic rivals AC Milan. That was a source of disappointment and the Partenopei, now led by Rudi Garcia, will be looking to right that wrong this time around.
Napoli beat Braga 2-1 in their first continental contest of the campaign. They are seen as possible dark horses this season and a positive result against the mighty Madrid on Tuesday would make the rest of Europe sit up and take notice.
This is one of those games where any outcome - a home win, an away win, or a tie - would not be a huge surprise. It is hard to predict the result, so we recommend steering clear of betting the moneyline on this occasion.
The best wager could be tipping Napoli to score first. The Stadio Armando Diego Maradona will never win any awards for comfort or aesthetics, yet it can produce a fantastic atmosphere on European nights in particular.
Few visiting teams relish playing there - as Ancelotti, a former Napoli manager, knows better than most.
The visiting side will aim to silence the crowd early on, whereas Garcia will implore his players to feed off the energy inside the stadium. Napoli are likely to come flying out of the blocks and their chances of victory would be greatly improved by taking the lead.
Madrid will not panic even if they fall behind, but they could struggle to match Napoli’s intensity in the early stages. For that reason, the first goal of the game may well belong to the Italians.
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Greg Lea is a freelance soccer journalist from London. He is the former editor of The Set Pieces, and has contributed to the Guardian, FourFourTwo, and ESPN. A Crystal Palace fan, he is a long-time subscriber to the belief that it's the taking part that counts. Email: [email protected]More info on Greg Lea
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