In pictures: Real Madrid v Liverpool
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Gary Lineker has revealed he placed a ‘very rare’ bet on Champions League outsiders Napoli to win the competition several months ago. The Serie A side are into the quarter-finals after a dominant win over Eintracht Frankfurt.
Lineker’s bet appears to be a good one. Napoli have been excellent both domestically and in Europe.
Gli Azzurri are a remarkable 18 points clear at the top of Serie A, a division they have not won since 1989-90. And former England striker Lineker has backed them to win the Champions League alongside a historic league triumph.
The Match of the Day presenter tweeted: “Really enjoy watching @en_sscnapoli. They play such exciting football. Had a very rare bet on them to win the Champions League this season some months ago.”
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It comes after Lineker gushed over exciting Georgian winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. The 22-year-old has starred in Napoli’s prolific forward line, scoring 13 goals and providing 15 assists.
Sharing an interview with the Georgia international, Lineker said earlier this week: “Remember the name. He’s that good that eventually we’ll all know how to spell it.”
Several Premier League clubs have been linked with Kvaratskhelia, who Napoli signed for just £10million. He has formed an excellent partnership with striker Victor Osimhen. Manchester United are reportedly keen to sign both players.
Italian football icon Christian Vieri likened Kvaratskhelia to United icon George Best. Speaking to Bobo TV, Vieri said: “The goal he scored (against Atalanta) was the stuff of madness. If he goes to Manchester United, the days of George Best will return. Kvaratskhelia is the same.”
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Kvaratskelia revealed he has recently had to ‘collect myself’ after a whirlwind 12 months. He was playing for Rubin Kazan but was allowed to depart following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He left to join Georgian team Dinamo Batumi.
He joined Napoli in January 2022. He told the New York Times: “The start was so smooth that it did feel like a dream. But at some point, early on, I had to collect myself, remind myself that it was not a dream, that it was reality, and I had to find the strength in myself to live through it.”
Meanwhile, Napoli will also face a tough battle to keep star striker Osimhen in the summer. Premier League Man Utd are eyeing the Nigeria international as a long-term option for the centre-forward role.
Osimhen scored twice in Napoli’s 3-0 win over Frankfurt on Wednesday. The 24-year-old has struck 21 goals across all competitions this term.
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