Real Madrid vs Napoli 4-2: Fearless Partenopei Outclassed Again

It’s no use. Napoli failed once again – for the sixth time in six European encounters – to beat Real Madrid as they succumbed 4-2 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night. They held their own for 84 minutes, then a goal from 19-year-old Nico Paz made their resistance collapse.

The Partenopei will thus need to wait two more weeks to get their ticket to the Champions League Round of 16. One point against Sporting Braga in the final game of the Group Stage will be enough, but Walter Mazzarri and his boys will need to keep their guard up.  

Carlo Ancelotti showed no mercy to his former club even though Real Madrid were already qualified and despite missing several of his key starters, including his two regular goalkeepers, Luka Modric, and Vinicius. Napoli approached the game with no fear. The result was an entertaining Champions League night, featuring six goals, several strokes of footballing genius, and a few mistakes.

Mazzarri recovered Alex Meret between the sticks and deployed Juan Jesus as left back. Victor Osimhen was only fit for the bench, so it was up to Giovanni Simeone to play in the center forward role, supported by Matteo Politano and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia on the wings.

The Partenopei showed the right approach and were off to a good start. Just like in a Round of 16 game a few years ago, they shocked the Bernabeu early on as Kvaratskhelia picked Giovanni Di Lorenzo in the box with a fine cross. The Azzurri’s right back’s shot was furtherly deflected by Simeone, with the ball crossing the goal line despite third goalkeeper Andriy Lunin’s desperate saving attempt.

All easy for Napoli? Of course not. Real Madrid yawned, stretched their arms, and made it 1-1 in no time. It took exactly 22 seconds for Rodrygo to draw level with a sharp shot into the top right corner of the net, but credit must also be given to Brahim Diaz for snatching the ball at midfield and igniting the Merengues’ counterattack.

Ten minutes later, Ancelotti’s side completed the come back as, you guessed it, Jude Bellingham headed the ball home from a perfectly timed cross from David Alaba.

Napoli showed their willingness to react, but their efforts were controlled by Madrid’s organized defense. Only towards the end of the first half they managed to threaten the opposition ball again, but Antonio Rudiger came to the rescue and prevented Simeone from tapping the ball in from close range.

At half time, Mazzarri brought in Osimhen, who replaced Simeone. Perhaps the sole Nigerian’s presence was enough for the visitors to show the eye of the tiger as their assault was relentless and soon earned them an equalizer.   

Within the first minute after the restart, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa saw his first shot deflected by the Merengues defense, but pounced on the rebound and fired the ball past Lunin to make it 2-2. Napoli could have even made another one, but Kvaratskhelia squandered a glorious fast break chance as he served Osimhen a split second too late and saw his pass intercepted.

Ancelotti’s side did not stand watching, too. Meret had to keep his side afloat in at least two chances as he pushed back a Rudiger header attempt and then managed to deny no less than Bellingham. Substitute Joselu did give him a hand too, as he missed at least three clear chances to put Real ahead again.

Unfortunately for him and for Napoli, the Partenopei goalkeeper ruined what looked like a fine performance with a blunder that gift-wrapped Real Madrid their third goal. Nico Paz’s movement to get rid of his marker was brilliant but his shot from outside the box was anything but irresistible. Yet, Meret failed to block it as the ball slipped through his hands.

In the dying minutes of the game, Napoli conceded again as Joselu finally made it to the scoresheet, even though all he had to do was push the ball into the back of the net from point-blank range. Bellingham did the heavy lifting with a cutting pass in the middle of the visitors’ box.

It was an overly severe punishment for Napoli, but nothing is lost in terms of qualification – as long as they show the same attitude seen tonight when they tackle Braga in two weeks’ time.   



November 29, 2023 – Champions League Group Stage 

SCORERS: 9′ Simeone (N), 11′ Rodrygo (R), 22′ Bellingham (R), 47′ Anguissa (N), 84′ Nico Paz (R), 94′ Joselu (R)

REAL MADRID (4-3-1-2): Lunin; Carvajal, Alaba, Rudiger, F. Mendy (87′ Nacho); Valverde, Kroos, Ceballos (57′ Joselu); Bellingham; Brahim Diaz (65′ Nico Paz), Rodrygo (87′ Lucas Vasquez) (Canizares, Fran, F. Garcia, G. Garcia, Martin, T. Zidane) Coach: Ancelotti
NAPOLI (4-3-3): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Natan, Juan Jesus (86′ Zanoli); Anguissa, Lobotka (86′ Raspadori), Zielinski (65′ Elmas); Kvaratskhelia, Simeone (46′ Osimhen), Politano (76′ Cajuste) (Contini, Gollini, Gaetano, Ostigard, Zerbin) Coach: Mazzarri

REFEREE: Mr. Letexier (France)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Zielinski, Cajuste (N); Added Time: 1st Half 4′, 2nd Half 6′