Gary Lineker lodged ‘very rare bet’ on Champions League – and it could pay off

Gary Lineker lodged a "very rare bet" on Napoli to bag their first-ever Champions League title at the start of the season – and now the Italian giants are leaping into the last eight of the competition.

The Serie A leaders romped to the quarter-final stage with a 5-0 aggregate victory over Eintracht Frankfurt, a Victor Oshimen brace and a penalty from Piotr Zielinski sealing the tie at the Diego Armando Maradona.

Blitzing past the Europa League winners, Luciano Spalleti's side are the most prolific side in Europe's elite competition this season having racked up a staggering 25 goals in just eight matches – three more than odds on favourites Manchester City.

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Lineker revealed on social media that he backed Gli Azzurri to lift the 'Old Ears' trophy in the early months of the 2022/23 campaign, tweeting: "Really enjoy watching Napoli. They play such exciting football. Had a very rare bet on them to win the Champions League this season some months ago."

It's likely the odds for the Match of the Day presenter will be flattering. Napoli were outcast at 66/1 underdogs before a ball was kicked but are now as short as 11/2 with just two rounds until the final in Istanbul.

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And it's not just Lineker backing the Naples club for European glory. Ex-Chelsea and AC Milan ace Ruud Gullit told Gazzetta dello Sport that Napoli are the 'favourites to win the Champions League".

He said: "In a television broadcast I said that they are the favourites to win the Champions League. I haven't changed my mind. They play a style of football that we all like to see; fast, rapid and vertical. The English clubs are strong, the same for Bayern Munich, and Real Madrid are capable of crazy feats, but this Napoli team are totally different."

Napoli will learn their quarter-final fate on Friday (March 17) with favourable ties against Benfica, Inter Milan and AC Milan up for grabs. Up until this round clubs were not permitted to draw sides competing in the same domestic league.


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