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 By Ben Gladwell

Napoli can beat Real Madrid in Champions League - De Laurentiis

Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis has called on his team to become heroes by beating Real Madrid in the Champions League next week and says that there is no such thing as unbeatable opponents.

The Azzurri will be outsiders when they run out at the Santiago Bernabeu for the first leg of their round-of-16 tie next Tuesday against the current European champions.

"Of course Napoli probably have only a quarter of the revenue that big clubs like Real have, but I don't think any team is invincible," De Laurentiis told beIN SPORTS. "We have already played against great sides -- we've faced Barcelona on their own patch -- and so we've grown a lot in recent years, and I think Napoli have more hunger than Real.

"It would be a heroic act to get through to the next round and sometimes there are games which can change the course of your whole season. If we beat Real, the lads would be really hyped up and the fans would be delirious. As a film producer, I love gifting dreams to people."

Dries Mertens celebrates after scoring for Napoli in their Serie A game against Torino.
Napoli take on Real Madrid in the Champions League next Tuesday.

Napoli take on Real without their most lethal weapon from last season, Gonzalo Higuain, but they do possess a team which is proving to be equally adept without a player who set a Serie A season record with 36 goals last term.

De Laurentiis believes his club are even stronger this year than they were with the Argentina international in the side.

"We're better without Higuain because it has made [coach Maurizio] Sarri realise that we needed to get back to playing as a team," De Laurentiis said. "Selling Higuain really has made the coach get the best out of the situation and he's managed to get all of our players on track.

"Higuain probably thought about winning the Champions League [by leaving], and I do hope he wins it, but after we have. And anyway, his brother said that Gonzalo didn't want to play with one guy who was playing well for the Azzurri [Italy national team] and that he didn't want to work with another guy here either.

"We spoke to Nicolas [Higuain's brother and agent] and he told us that Gonzalo wanted to be in a side full of names and stars rather than in one where new talents were being discovered, and it got to the stage where, even though we were offering him more money than he is getting at Juventus, he went to the Bianconeri anyway."

Ben Gladwell reports on Serie A, the Italian national team and the Bundesliga for ESPN FC, UEFA and the Press Association. @UEFAcomBenG.

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