The 2022/23 UEFA Champions League took a hiatus in early November, shortly before the start of the World Cup and there has been a lull for more than two months now. The Champions League, inarguably Europe’s greatest competition returns to almost half a billion viewers and millions of screens in less than a month from now.
A tournament which never fails to deliver, the Champions League has always been full of surprises and no doubt, this current spell is no exception.
So far in this edition of the Champions League, the back of the net has been found 304 times in 96 matches, averaging 3.17 goals per game, with Paris Saint Germain’s Kylian Mbappe and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah sitting at the top of the goalscoring charts with seven goals each.
On the back of a quite interesting Round of 16 draw in November, the entire football universe is set to experience some sensational match-ups in February and March. A couple of heavyweight fixtures have been thrown up for this round of Europe’s most illustrious tournament.
Defending champions and 14-time winners, Real Madrid, are heavily in the mix, as they look to add the quinzième UEFA Champions League to their trophy gallery in either Real Madrid City or the Santiago Bernabeu when they take on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, a remake of the 2022 final in Saint-Denis.
This series will look at the next round of matchups!
Eintracht Frankfurt vs Napoli
Coming after they triumphed in the final of the Europa league last season, Eintracht Frankfurt are in the UEFA Champions League this season for the second time in their history; after 1959-60.
The Germans did a decent job in the group-stages this spell, finishing as runners-up with ten points in a group containing Tottenham Hotspur, Olympique Marseille and Sporting Lisbon. The last and only time Frankfurt featured in the Champions League, they advanced to the finals where they were eventually defeated 7-3 by Real Madrid.
Perhaps, Glasner’s side are the typical Champions League dark horses we get to see in the latter stages of this season’s competition? That of course starts with beating Napoli, a difficult task.
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A team that has been associated with often getting the better of Liverpool, Napoli’s commanding position as group leaders even though on tie breakers would come as no shock to anyone. On par with Jurgen Klopp’s side on 15 points, Napoli came out on top thanks to head-to-head goal difference and they’d really be grateful to the tiebreaker rules that they dodged a real bullet in Real Madrid, having being allocated a comparatively easier route to the quarter-finals in Frankfurt.
The Italian outfit are on fire this spell. Spalleti’s side are at the top of the Serie A table, with 47 points in 18 games. They are nine points clear of second placed AC Milan and given the calibre of opponents they’re drawn against, it’s almost anyone’s bet Napoli would make it through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, a stage they’ve never reached in their history.
Both teams have faced twice, both in the same season(1994-95) in the UEFA Cup with Frankfurt triumphing 1-0 on both occasions.
Players to watch
Victor Osimhen (SSC Napoli)
The man at the centre of Napoli’s success this season, Osimhen has 13 goals in 18 games this season including 12 in 14 in Italy’s topflight.
He however has found the back of the net only once in the European competition this season thanks to a biceps femoris muscle injury(which forced him to miss two UCL fixtures) coming off the bench on one occasion and watching from the sidelines on another.
The 24-year old despite his injury has been able to achieve all he has this season and should be Napoli’s number one valuable heading into this tricky tie with Oliver Glasner’s side.
Daichi Kamada (Eintracht Frankfurt)
The Japanese midfielder was a great asset to Glasner’s side last season, scoring five goals to help his team take home the Europa League trophy. Kamada was second highest goalscorer for The Eagles last season behind Rafael Santos Borre’s 12 goals, a tally he has already matched with about half of the season yet to come.
Kamada’s the biggest thing Frankfurt’s got going on for them season in the Champions League and in all competitions and definitely is one player to watch for when they take on Napoli.
Main image credit Embed from Getty Images