Napoli is likely to be first team to be crowned league champion in the Top Five football leagues this season, as the team is now 18 points clear of its contenders in the Italian Serie A. Gli Azzurri brought its top form in domestic competitions to the European club football in the UEFA Champions League, and beat German Bundesliga 1’s Eintracht Frankfurt in the Round of 16 with a 5-0 aggregate score line. The Italian outfit returned to home with a 2-0 advantage gained in Germany and eased past its visitors with a 3-0 victory in the second leg, thanks to two goals from in-form forward Victor Osimhen and a Piotr Zieliński penalty.
11th Win in 13 Games
Luciano Spalletti’s men came to the second leg of this cup tie with 10 wins in 12 previous games in all competitions; The 64-year-old Italian displayed full confidence to his team and made only one change to his Napoli squad that emerged victorious over Atalanta last weekend. The visiting manager Oliver Glasner, on the other hand, chose to shift things up by bringing in three alterations; His Frankfurt side drew Stuttgart at home in the Bundesliga 1 last time out.
With about 40 seconds left to be played in the first period, Italian winger Matteo Politano broke free at his right flank and delivered a tempting cross to the penalty box. 24-year-old Victor Osimhen, who is known for his stunning vertical leap, rose to meet the ball and scored his 22nd goal of the season. The Nigerian forward doubled the home side’s advantage eight minutes after the resume of play, when the same strike force combined again in Napoli’s attack. The 29-year-old captain Politano found Osimhen inches before the goal line with his delivery and the young forward tapped home Napoli’s second into the unguarded goal. He appeared to have injured his hand during the process, but stayed on to play for another half an hour.
Napoli’s third goal of the evening and the fifth in the overall tie came in the 63rd minute, when Zieliński was brought down Frankfurt’s Djibril Sow in the penalty box. The 28-year-old Polish midfielder coolly placed the ball in the middle of the goal to further extend Napoli’s lead in aggregate as Kevin Trapp guessed the wrong way.
NAPOLI’S FAIRYTALE SEASON LASTS ON 🧚♂️ pic.twitter.com/SpIL7OxE3e
— 433 (@433) March 15, 2023
Napoli Through to the Quarterfinal and Three Italian Clubs Progressed to This Stage for the First Time
Luciano Spalletti’s squad’s 5-0 aggregate win over two legs in the last 16 meant Napoli is progressing to its inaugural quarterfinal appearance in the UEFA Champions League. Besides, the team in blue created history after it joined both Milan clubs at this stage of the top-tiered European club football competition.
When spoke about this important win, one of the hottest forwards in football at the moment, Nigerian Osimhen was not shy to talk about Napoli’s chances to win it all in the UEFA Champions League. “I think anything is possible and we have the squad to achieve this dream. We want to go step by step and we will see what happens at the end of the season. It feels good to make history with this win. It was huge win. Congratulations to the team on a good performance from the whole squad”, he said.
As for the winning manager Spalletti, he claimed that his current team is better than Diego Maradona’s squad back in the 1980s and he believes that chemistry is what makes Napoli arguably the most in-form team now. “We manage to make up for our shortcomings thanks to collective work. Tonight I saw many elements combine and play a messy game, which sometimes you need. It’s not just that the important individuals create an outlet. To make the most of it, you need those who scrape and clean up situations for the players with more quality” was his response.
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Italian Superiority in This Year’s Champions League
With the round of 16 now done and dusted, spectators’ attention now turn to the quarterfinal draw that will be held this coming Friday. The final eight teams remaining include three teams from Italian Serie A, two from English Premier League, one each from Spanish La Liga, German Bundesliga 1 and Portuguese Primeira Liga.
Which team do you think will win the UEFA Champions League this time around? Or are we going to witness a total domination by Italian clubs this June? Let us know your thoughts.