Victor Osimhen has a chance to stake a realistic claim for the 2023 Ballon d'Or with a deep run in the UEFA Champions League
The 2022/23 UEFA Champions League quarter-final draws could outdo its purpose of producing the competition's winner and go a step further by determining the best player in the world for 2023.
So what is the correlation between the UCL quarter and semi-final draws which was done in the middle of March 2023 and the Ballon d'Or ceremony still to come in October 2023?
The simple answer is Victor Osimhen, who leads the line for Napoli and is on course to spearhead a historic season for Gli Azzuri both domestically and continentally.
Napoli have a clear path to the UCL Final
Napoli will play against AC Milan in the quarterfinals of this season's Champions League in what is the only intra-country tie of the last eight.
As it stands, Napoli are the clear favourites to win their first-ever UCL quarter-final game and make further history by advancing to the semis for the first time as well.
The Neapolitans are the undisputed best team in Italy this season with an 18-point gap ahead of the chasing pack which includes AC Milan who are 20 points adrift of their Champions League opponents after 26 Serie A matches.
Napoli are also one of the very best teams in Europe with just three losses to their name all season long, one of which was in the Champions League, a 2-0 defeat away at Liverpool in a dead-rubber group stage game.
AC Milan on the other hand are arguably the worst team left in the Champions League right now, having only qualified for the quarters at the expense of an even worse team, Tottenham.
The fact that they have already beaten Milan this season, 2-1 at San Siro in their only meeting so far this season further makes the point that this should be a straightforward win for Napoli.
A win against Milan sends Napoli to the semi-final where they will face the winner between Benfica and Inter Milan, two very beatable teams from Napoli's perspective.
In fairness, Inter are one of the three teams to have beaten Napoli this season while Benfica have only lost one game all season which indicates the semis will not be easy for Napoli.
With all that has been said, Napoli are still perhaps the biggest winners of this UCL quarter and semi-final draws and they can still be expected to win thanks to the firepower of Victor Osimhen.
How does this concern Victor Osimhen and the Ballon d'Or?
Their 18-point lead in Serie A means Napoli are set to win only their third league title, the first since 1990, largely thanks to Osimhen's exploits as the team and league top scorer.
With the above projections, Napoli are also on course to make it all the way to the UEFA Champions League final for the first time in their 118-year history.
If they do make it to the final, they will play against one out of a difficult pool of opponents including Real Madrid, Chelsea, Bayern Munich or Manchester City.
And as every football follower knows, one-off finals are even more unpredictable and could go either way, so Napoli winning the 2023 UEFA Champions League is no longer as far-fetched as it was before the draws were made.
Osimhen already has four goals in five Champions League appearances this season, if he somehow manages to lead Napoli to the trophy or even just the final with more goals, he instantly enters the Ballon d'Or conversation as a credible candidate.
If all the above scenarios come to pass, it would mean Osimhen has ended a 33-year wait for a league title for Napoli while also becoming the first African to win the Serie A top scorer award.
While also leading the club to Champions League milestones which stack up for a Ballon d'Or consideration when the awards come around in October.
It is worth considering that the awards ceremony will happen less than a year after the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the top performers in Qatar such as Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi are still favourites to jostle for the top prize.
However, with both players out of the Champions League already, Osimhen could be the third guy in that mix with the very best in the world if he wins the league and Champions League double with a Golden Boot award to support it.
15:24 - 17.03.2023
UCL Barcelona icon picks Napoli as favourites to win the Champions League
Ex-Ajax and Barcelona favourite Patrick Kluivert has predicted that Napoli will win the UEFA Champions League
13:57 - 17.03.2023
UCL Champions League: Osimhen and Napoli are the biggest winners but Real Madrid are the losers
Real Madrid face a difficult challenge if they are to retain their Champions League title this season, but Napoli will be happy with their draw
13:49 - 17.03.2023
UCL Quarter-final and semi-final draws set the stage for one-sided final in Istanbul
The 2022/23 UEFA Champions League quarter-final and semi-final draws set up a potential 'David and Goliath' final
12:24 - 17.03.2023
UCL Reunion for Guardiola as Manchester City draw Bayern Munich in the quarterfinal
Manchester City draw Bayern Munich as Chelsea play Real Madrid for the third season in a row