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Can the best attacking duo in Europe lead Napoli to a fairytale story in the Champions League?

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22nd February, 2023

Napoli proudly has some of the most passionate supporters in world football, but even some of the most diehard Neapolitans would not have predicted or dreamed of such an extraordinary campaign so far.

Before a ball was even kicked this season, expectations were set at the bare minimum. Experienced veterans leaving the club such as Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens, and Kalidou Koulibaly would lead to the scenario of a top-four finish being viewed as a miracle. 

Not only are they comfortably sitting in the top four, but the two-time Italian champions are also running away with the title, 15 points ahead of Inter Milan and 20 points clear of that ’miracle’ Champions League qualification. 

In recent years, Napoli has displayed some scintillating and entertaining football packed with energy and intensity. 

Although this has been exciting for both the fans and neutrals, the one criticism that always seems to haunt them is their lack of consistency and ability to perform in the big moments when it matters most. 

Phenomenally starting the season, losing just one of the first 21 games in all competitions, the World Cup break then rolled around, creating a proper test. 

Would Napoli have the personnel to keep their strong momentum going, or would the unwanted interruption lead to the wheels finally falling off?

After succumbing to a 1-0 defeat to Inter Milan after the World Cup, Napoli has successfully passed the test with flying colours since that moment, staying undefeated and replicating the exceptional football on display in 2022.


All around the pitch, they complement each other incredibly well and combine as if they have been playing together for years. Also, their solidity and hard work off the ball are evident by conceding just 23 goals in 31 matches across all competitions this season. 

You may think that the squad isn’t made up of superstars, but Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia are two of the most sought-after players in world football. 

Osimhen, an unknown 24-year-old centre-forward until recently, suffered a difficult childhood growing up in Nigeria.

In the space of three months, his mum tragically passed away and his dad lost his job. To make ends meet for his family, Osimhen sold bottled water in large traffic, where he would spread his pocket money out on the table to buy food and other resources.

In truth, no defence so far has been able to find a solution to contain the star striker. If the opposition decides to sit deep, he has the aerial ability. If the opposition decides to push a high line, Osimhen possesses the incredible pace to exploit on the counter with his raw ability on the ball.

Not to mention he is a strong physical presence holding up the ball with his back turned to goal.

The real revelation this season though is Kvaratskhelia, or ‘Kvaradona’ as some refer to him in comparison to Napoli icon Diego Maradona.


Victor Osimhen (Photo by Giuseppe Maffia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Born in Georgia, the left-winger was destined to become great due to his continued devotion and passion for football. Growing up, he was weak and lacked the firepower which looked like a problem in his youth career, but this was no barrier for such a talented individual.

Raised in a working-class family, the 22-year-old understands the sacrifices and backbreaking work required to reach the top, just like his fellow compatriot in Osimhen.

Renowned for his jaw-dropping flair and ability to beat his man with such ease along with his vision and goalscoring potential, the 10 million investment that Napoli made in him last year considering the astronomical fees nowadays seems like one of the transfers of the century. 

Historically, the Neapolitans have always been looked down upon by their Northern Italian rivals in Juventus, AC Milan, and Inter Milan being referred to by those supporters as ‘peasants’ relating to Napoli’s low standard of living and poverty rate. 

It just seems fitting that Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia’s stories connect to the fans of Naples and are riding this great wave of emotion together. 

24 goals have come from the direct partnership between the pair, only behind Messi and Mbappe (25) and Haaland and Foden (32.)


The difference is that Osimhen and Kvara have stayed consistent throughout the whole season, so in tune that it becomes expected now that the team is constantly winning and demonstrating high-quality football.

Football is a game of styles, and coach Luciano Spaletti’s attacking approach is getting the best out of the most powerful and dynamic duo in world football at this current moment in time.

In all competitions, Osimhen has 20 goals and 4 assists to his name, while Khvicha has reached impressive double figures in both categories, scoring 12 goals and providing 15 assists. That equates to 51 goals combined, meaning they have been directly involved in 64% of Napoli’s goals in all competitions. 

Make no mistake, every club still standing in the Champions League want to avoid the Italian outfit at all costs. Napoli loves to press and has added a new level of intensity, almost matching the standard set by the Premier League. 

With all of that said, the question now is can Napoli actually win the Champions League?

With a convincing 2-0 triumph over Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their last 16 tie yesterday, Napoli proved that they are mature enough to seriously make some noise. Playing against 10 men for most of the second half obviously helped, but they didn’t get out of first gear even before that incident.

Diego Maradona

Napoli legend Diego Maradona. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

Let’s not forget that Napoli was away from home in Germany, playing in front of one of the most hostile atmospheres in Europe at the Deutsche Bank Park.

Never have they progressed to the quarter-finals of the competition in their history, exposing the potential for inexperience to creep in as they start to face the real contenders.

On the flip side, most of the regular favourites are not in the best of form with the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool, PSG, and Chelsea all struggling to string together coherent performances to align with their high expectations. 

People will argue that it will only be a matter of time before a team with the quality of Real Madrid or Bayern Munich will pick them apart, but Spaletti’s men have so many strengths in their game that they are scarily adaptable to play in multiple ways. 

Napoli just has that aura about them at the moment in which their football is so breathtaking and fluid that it feels as though a fairy tale ending might well be on the cards. 

As they arguably contain the finest partnership in Europe along with playing the best football, could Napoli become the first Italian side since Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan back in 2010 to be crowned European champions?


Winning the Scudetto for the first time in 33 years seemed like an unimaginable scenario, though being recognised as the greatest team on the continent surely eclipses that achievement.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to watch a Napoli match this season, it is highly recommended that it becomes a top priority. 

Let the inspiring story of Napoli continue.

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