Napoli have dodged a significant bullet, with Real Madrid leaving Gareth Bale out of their Champions League squad despite there being hope that he would be recovered enough to play after returning to training in the last week. Better yet, Napoli got good injury news for themselves, with both Arkadiusz Milik and Lorenzo Tonelli traveling with the team to Spain after being cleared to play.
The absence of Bale is a key one for Napoli, as the Welsh attacker had been Madrid’s biggest threat this season in the final third. Their attack is still plenty potent without him, make no mistake, but in his absence their consistency has been severely lacking. He brings an extra level of dynamism to the attack that they lack, especially with age starting to slow Cristiano Ronaldo down.
The return of Milik to the squad is huge even if he doesn’t wind up playing, just for the simple fact that such a massive goal-scoring threat is healthy again and available will be a big mental relief to the players in the final third who have been wearing themselves thin trying to replace him. Of course, Napoli’s attack has still done magnificently in Milik’s absence, with Dries Mertens and Marek Hamsik taking up the majority of the goalscoring load, and the duo of Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon picking up plenty of slack themselves.
Tonelli’s return helps restore some depth to the defense as well, though the return of Kalidou Koulibaly from AFCON did a lot for that while Tonelli was out with his own injury. Both players coming back will be a huge boost to Napoli’s confidence, and confidence is something they’re going to need a lot of on Wednesday at the Santiago Bernabeu.