UEFA Champions League: Napoli 1 - 3 Real Madrid: 5 Talking Points
Result: Napoli 1 – 3 Real Madrid: Mertens 24’; Ramos 51’, 57’, Morata 91’ (2-6 on agg.)
Real Madrid’s visit to Naples panned out almost exactly the way it did when Napoli had turned up in Madrid. The Italian team scored first, before bucking and conceding three goals in return. An aggregate of 6-2 however does no justice to the way Napoli played for the majority of the tie. They were fine going forward, and showed great attacking zeal and verve in their play that many-a-team struggle to find (hello, London-based-teams-knocked-out-of-Europe)
Having said that Madrid were deserved winners, on the night, and in the tie, and move into the quarterfinals rather more comfortably than that first 45 minutes at the San Paolo suggested. They now have a very real chance of becoming the first club in the Champions League era to retain their crown.
5. Has there been a better goal-scoring defender than Sergio Ramos?
A word of advice to any team playing a big match against Madrid... do anything you can to prevent the concession of a corner. With Napoli leading 1-0 and having thrust Real Madrid on to the back foot. Till the 51st minute. Toni Kroos took the corner, and who was there to head it in? El capitan himself Sergio Ramos. The enigmatic Spaniard may have become a touch more susceptible at the back – as Napoli’s brilliant attack showed over and over again in the opening half – but he’s become absolutely lethal going forward... and has mastered the art of stepping up to the plate when the team needs someone to the most.
So, naturally, six minutes later he rose highest to guide home another excellent Kroos corner – via a deflection – into the back of the net. That one effectively killed off the game and eased the pressure on his team. Ease is too light a word, actually, it was more like someone had popped a balloon and the pressure just went whizzing out.
He’s scored 21 goals over the last couple of years, and 18 of them have come when Madrid where either behind, or level. That man is quite something.