Match Recap – Champions League: Real Madrid 3 – 1 Napoli

16 Feb

bernabeu

Following PSG’s absolute destruction of Barcelona on Tuesday, we all hoped to not fall victim to similar against Napoli.

Pre-Match Social Media:

Starting Lineups:

Real Madrid: Keylor Navas; Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo; Casemiro, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos; James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo

Napoli: Pepe Reina; Elseid Hysaj, Raul Albiol, Kalidou Koulibaly, Faouzi Ghoulam; Piotr Zielinski, Amadou Diawara, Marek Hamsik; Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne

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I’ll be honest, the prediction that I gave to the Managing Madrid staff was a 2-1 loss. I honestly thought that the Napoli counter attack would be too much and that the disconnect between our midfield and defense would ruin us.

I’m happy to have been wrong!

We started strong. Benzema had a shot on goal after only 20 seconds! It was a really solid play by Cristiano and Pepe Reina’s save was reactionary, but good.

Despite our domination in possession and  a lot of really good pressing, Napoli scored the first goal in the 8th minute. Again, excellent lead up play. And Insigne’s shot was fabulous. He caught Keylor out of position but I’m not sure anyone really thought he’d take that shot.

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In the 17th minute Sergio was booked for a harsh tackle on Diawara.

But in the 18th minute, after I’d given Benzema shit about his headers always being bad, we had the equalizer. Dani’s cross was fucking amazing with the outside of his foot, and Benz headed that bad boy home with authority!

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I thought Cristiano looked vintage throughout the whole match. He had some touches that were just exquisite and it was like he and I were in our 20s again. He was quick and agile, and I was watching in awe.

In the 38th minute, Zielinski picked up a yellow for fouling Casemiro.

After 1 minute of added time, the half came to an end.

Real Madrid 1 – 1 Napoli

Second Half:

We had 62% of the possession in the first half, and I was sure that if we wanted the win we’d have to keep up both possession (I know who I sound like!) and the intensity we had.

Napoli had a lot of the ball in the opening minutes of the half, however.

In the 49th minute, Mr. Selfish dribbled the ball into Napoli’s half before a fine pass to ToniLive, who slotted into the corner.

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So much ToniLove!

In the 52nd minute, Lucky Luka picked up a yellow card when he went in on Hamsik a bit late. I made a funny noise, if I’m honest. I adore Marek Hamsik. I couldn’t even tell you why. He’s equal parts fun and infuriating to watch.

In the 54th minute…

What can I say to describe this goal? I was stunned! This shot by Casemiro doesn’t need words!

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The match began to take on a different feel with that. It was very end-to-end as Napoli tried to get another important away goal. I wanted a 4th Real Madrid goal BADLY.

I have to give special mention to this clearance by Sergio because I honestly thought that he was either going to kick Navas in the face, or that Napoli would score.

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Mertens (who I also love) had two excellent chances to give Napoli a second but put the ball over the crossbar on the first, while Navas saved the second.

In the 71st minute, Pepe had to come in for The Pony, who looked like he’d taken a knock.

In the 75th minute, Allan replaced Zielinski for Napoli.

In the 76th minute, Mertens went in late on Casemiro and picked up a yellow card.

In the same minute, Vazquez replaced James. I thought James was excellent and was essential to a lot of how we played.

In the 81st minute, Callejon had the ball in the back of the net but it was disallowed for offside.

In the 82nd minute, Morata came on for Benzema who had an excellent game as well.

In the 84th minute, Milik replaced Hamsik for Napoli.

After 4 minutes of added time, that was it!

Real Madrid 3 – 1 Napoli

Match Photos:

Post-Match Comments:

zizou-post-match

FROM REALMADRID.COM

Zidane: “I’m happy with the result but the tie isn’t over yet”
by Javier Garcia

“We played with real intensity and our concentration levels were very high”, declared the Whites’ boss.

Zinedine Zidane expressed his satisfaction at this side’s performance in the victory over Napoli and had the following to say at the final whistle in the media room: “We put in a great performance, possibly our best. We made a great start, the disappointment was the goal that we conceded. We recovered soon after going behind and got a goal and I’m happy with the result, we deserved this outcome. The scoreline doesn’t matter, we now have to go there and go again. It’ll be tough and we’ll be made to dig in. The tie isn’t over yet. We need to go there and finish the job with this 3-1 advantage”.

“I’m not sure whether this wasn’t our best performance in terms of our play, it certainly was intensity-wise. Our concentration levels were very high and that was important. We faced strong opposition, who came into the game on the back of a fantastic run of results. There have also been other games in which I have been happy with our performance”.

The opposition
“Napoli are a great side and they made life tough for us. They’re capable of doing damage at any moment, but we too have our weapons to hurt the opposition”. 

“Ramos picked up a knock but as the game went on he recovered. In the end, I took him off because of the knock and the fact he was on a yellow, I didn’t want to risk it. It was just a slight knock, nothing more”.

Kroos’ goal
“He loves getting into that position. We spoke about it. He is capable of offering both his attacking and defensive qualities. He has a powerful shot and is great at shooting from that part of the pitch. I’m happy with him”.

Benzema
“I am always happy with him. He had been lacking goals in his recent games, but I am happy with his goal and his general play. He links up brilliantly with the others and really makes them play. Cristiano also played brilliantly. James was good on the ball and helped his teammates out… we had plenty of goalscoring opportunities”.

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Kroos: “It is a good result and we have to give 100% in the away leg”

“The team played to the level required for the Champions League and our opposition”, added Ramos.

Real Madrid beat Napoli in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie, in a game which Kroos summed up as follows: “It is always great to score, but even better to win. We played well and that is also important. We put the pressure on, played high up and came out of it well. It is a good result but we still have the away leg to play. We have to give 100% and we all know that we must work hard because they’re a tough team”.

Espanyol
“We want to remain at the top of LaLiga. Barcelona are just a point behind and we have to win every game left this season”.

Ramos: “The team were up for it”
“The aim, to get a good result, was what we managed to do. The team played to the level required for the Champions League and our opposition. We did things well, although we could have used another goal to go into the away leg a little more comfortable. We have the away leg to go and we need to go into it with the same amount of focus”.

Away leg
“There will be great atmosphere in their stadium, the Italian fans are passionate. As a player, I love playing in such atmospheres where the team are cheered to the end. I’ve never played there so I’m raring to go”.

“We showed intensity as we dominated and controlled the game. The result was a fair one. There was really high intensity to our play and that’s positive. James featured today, he came in and was raring to show he can do and ultimately competition is one of the keys to success”.

Maradona’s visit
“It fills us with pride, he’s one of the game’s greats and whenever there are visitors like him it’s always adds something”.

Four-man defence
“The coach is the one who makes the decision and it’s his job to study the opposition and work out which system will allow us to cause the most damage. We try to adjust as best as possible to what he asks of us”.

Marcelo: “We haven’t won anything yet”
“We went out with real determination, which is what the boss asked for. We gave our all until the end. We fought from start to finish. We put in a great performance, I think that we’ve got a slight advantage for the return leg, but we haven’t won anything yet. We need to go there and show the same intensity levels as we did today”.

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Benzema: “It was a great night”

“We played with real intensity and this is a good result”, stated Varane.

Karim Benzema netted Real Madrid’s first goal against Napoli and speaking at the final whistle he sought to highlight the team’s display: “It was a great night and all of us put in a great performance. I’m really proud and happy with my display today. I now feel very good and after scoring the first goal, I felt that the fans were with me, that’s really important for your confidence”.

“Since a young age, I’ve lived with criticism. I work hard and sometimes you score a lot of goals and on other occasions you don’t. I’m not a striker who always wants to score, I like to do my bit for the team and that’s why I work so hard in training. I enjoyed myself today, I got my goal and it was a game with a lot of action”.

Support
“We know that we’re here at Madrid, the best club in the world and the fans always support me. At times, it’s to be expected that I come in for criticism, but I’m always here trying to help the team. We’re all very happy because we put in a good performance and we’re now looking to continue on in this vein in LaLiga.

Varane: “We played with a lot of intensity”
“We wanted to win to go into the return leg in a good position and it’ll be a tough game. We made a very good start, despite conceding the goal and we played with a lot of intensity. The team delivered a great performance. We knew that we’d have to be really focused throughout the 90 minutes, because they’re strong opponents, and we managed to do that. This is a good result”.

“After conceding we couldn’t give up, we needed to keep going and we did well. We had a lot of chances and at the start of the second half we scored goals and that helped us to control the game”.
 
Second leg in Naples
“We need to go into it as if the tie was a 0-0. If we sit back, they have the quality to score goals and make life hard for us. we have to get stuck into the game, attack and play our own football”.
 
James: “It was an excellent game”
“We scored three goals against tough rivals it was a deserved win. I helped us to win, it is not always a case of scoring goals and giving assists, and the Bernabéu recognises my contributions. I am doing well, at the top of my game, and it was a great match from the whole team”.
 
The game in Italy
“In the Champions we all know you can’t relax and we came out strong. We still have the game there to go, it is a tough stadium to play in and we can’t relax because they have great players. We have to go to Naples with intensity and fight”.

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Casemiro’s sensational strike against Napoli

“it’s something I’ve been working on in training, I give thanks to God that it came off”, he explained.

Casemiro scored Real Madrid’s third goal with a sensational volley from outside the box. The Brazilian had the following to say about the win over Napoli: “We knew it was going to be a tough game, because they play some great football and have a lot of quality. We went out strong and finished the game well, but the toughest test is yet to come”.
 
“The fans were great and I want to thank them on behalf of the squad because they helped us a lot tonight. We know that they are strong when they play at home and we have to be focussed and calm in equal measures because there’s a long way to go”.

The goal
“It’s one I’ve been working on a lot and I give thanks to God that it came off. We practice shooting every day, and it’s something I in particular work on, with me often breaking into the box and getting chances to shoot from the edge of the area”.

Stunning display
“Karim put in an outstanding performance, as the whole team did. We’ve got to recognise that fact because we’ve overcome strong opposition”.

Post-Match Social Media:

I haven’t shared Guti’s tweets in a while, and this one is spot on!

I miss GareBear!

Sergio shared this photo of him and Claudio Caniggia, who I thought was Iggy Pop on first glance. Claudio played for a number of clubs, including River Plate, Roma, Benfica, Boca Juniors, and Rangers. He made 50 appearances for Argentina and scored 16 international goals.

“Good team performance” but here’s a pic of just me!

With his goal in this match, Karim surpassed fellow Frenchman Thierry Henry for 5th all-time goalscorer in UCL. He’s now the highest scoring Frenchman in UCL history. And four of the top 5 all-time goal scorers have worn our escudo!

We travel to Napoli for the return leg on 7 March. Our next match is Saturday against Espanyol at home.

¡Hala Madrid y Nada Mas!

-mygypsyspirit

(gifs by gutilicious and tgifootball)

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4 Responses to “Match Recap – Champions League: Real Madrid 3 – 1 Napoli”

  1. jellyace February 17, 2017 at 12:17 pm #

    Was there no Madridista love for Albiol and Callejon?

    • watishistacorrespondents February 20, 2017 at 3:02 pm #

      I have plenty of love for them, but I didn’t have time to be too gushy in the post. 😦

      • Mandy May 29, 2017 at 5:05 pm #

        Watchistacorreapondents, do you have a Twitter account?

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