The Hard Tackle lists three players who can positively impact the proceedings when Real Madrid and Napoli lock horns on Wednesday.

The UEFA Champions League group stage continues on Wednesday, with the curtains falling on Matchday 5. The marquee fixture on the day will dazzle us at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, where Real Madrid and Napoli will lock horns.

Real Madrid can complete the group stage campaign on Wednesday. The Merengues are five points ahead of Napoli and can seal the top spot in Group C with a stalemate. But Carlo Ancelotti will want his men to be ruthless and win all six games to lay down the marker for their next opponent.

On the other hand, Napoli will be wary of SC Braga catching them ahead of the two clubs having a showdown next month. So, they will be eager to get one over Real Madrid on Wednesday to book their spot in the Round of 16. Failure to do so will leave the Partenopei with a tricky fixture to finish the group-stage campaign.

With two of the biggest clubs in Europe locking horns this midweek, the margin of error will be small. With that in mind, The Hard Tackle lists three players who can singlehandedly influence the proceedings when Real Madrid and Napoli clash at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

Piotr Zielinski

Will Zielinski deliver the goods for Napoli against Real Madrid? (Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images)

Real Madrid will aim to dominate the midfield battle to put Napoli under pressure on Wednesday. So, the visitors’ creative exponents will feed off scraps and look to be clinical in the build-up play. So, Piotr Zielinski will hold the key for the Serie A champions.

The Polish international has been one of the driving forces behind Napoli’s rise in Serie A and Europe in the last two seasons. While Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia have taken most of the plaudits, Zielinski has quietly gone about his job in the middle of the park.

The Italian champions are currently sweating over the future of the 29-year-old, who has entered the final year of his contract. That has captured the attention of high-profile clubs like Liverpool, West Ham United, Inter Milan, and Barcelona. But he remains focused on the job at hand.

Zielinski’s output will determine if Osimhen and Kvaratskhelia will rise to the occasion on Wednesday. So, Walter Mazzarri will want his team’s creative supremo to make his mark on the game by reaching his topmost performance levels.

Rodrygo Goes

In fine form. (Photo by Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP via Getty Images)

Real Madrid will head into Wednesday’s game in the midst of an injury crisis. Fortunately for Los Blancos, they have already booked a spot in the Round of 16. But they seldom give away any freebies even if there is nothing on the line in an upcoming game. So, how Rodrygo Goes fares on Wednesday will determine if they take home all three points.

The Brazilian international has stepped up brilliantly in the absence of his compatriot Vinicius Junior. The Real Madrid talisman is currently nursing a hamstring injury that will keep him on the sidelines for the foreseeable future. And the added responsibility has inspired Rodrygo to raise his levels.

It was not long ago that Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool were showing interest in Rodrygo. Widespread reports were speculating whether the 22-year-old would have a spot in the Real Madrid first team for much longer. But he has emphatically put all the speculation to bed.

Rodrygo was excellent this past weekend as Real Madrid eased past Cadiz, finding the back of the net twice. Another game-changing performance on Wednesday will pave the way for Rodrygo to cement his place and clinch the top spot in Group C for Los Blancos.

Victor Osimhen

Embed from Getty Images

Our list ends with another attacker, this time from Napoli. While we took Khvicha Kvaratskhelia under consideration, the final pick is Victor Osimhen, who has recently emerged from an injury-enforced layoff.

The Nigerian international recently found himself in the eye of the storm after a few distasteful social media posts by Napoli. That has created a furore of rumours, with Real Madrid, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United, and Liverpool showing interest in him.

While Osimhen has not commented on the speculation surrounding him, he remains focused on the job on the field. So, Walter Mazzarri can expect full commitment from the 24-year-old, who has been a talismanic figure for Napoli in the last two seasons. And the Partenopei can take something from the game if Osimhen rises to the occasion this midweek.

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