Welcome to Sportstar’s highlights of the Champions League round of 16 second leg between SSC Napoli and Eintracht Frankfurt being played at the Diego Maradona Stadium in Naples, Italy.
Napoli returns to Champions League action this week well on track to have the standout season in European soccer and in the club’s entire history.
The quarterfinals of Europe’s marquee club competition finally beckon for Napoli, which has a 2-0 lead from the first leg before hosting Eintracht Frankfurt in the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona on Wednesday.
Only three of the 12 teams left in the competition top their domestic leagues — Napoli, Bayern Munich and Benfica — and the 18-point lead in Serie A is by far the most dominant.
Real Madrid hosting Liverpool with a 5-2 lead is the glamor game of the four second legs remaining in the round of 16, though only Madrid of that storied pair has so much as a chance of a domestic league title.
Napoli is a lock to be Italian champion for just the third time in its history, the first since 1990, and the first time without having Maradona in the team.
Still, even with the Argentina icon, Napoli twice failed to get past the second round of the old European Cup after those 1987 and 1990 titles in Serie A.
Napoli also never advanced past the round of 16 stage in the Champions League era that began in 1992. That looks set to change Wednesday.
It is also a big step for Napoli’s veteran coach Luciano Spalletti, who has not taken a team to the Champions League quarterfinals since 2008 with Roma. This is Spalletti’s seventh try since then, though his first with Napoli after falling short with Roma, Zenit St. Petersburg and Inter Milan.
Inter, which has not been to the quarterfinals since going out at that stage as the defending champion in 2011, takes a 1-0 lead to Porto in a finely balanced game Tuesday.
Manchester City host Leipzig on Tuesday with the teams tied at 1-1.
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