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UEFA Champions League, Round of 16, second leg: Barcelona vs Napoli – Preview, Team News and Line-ups

Barcelona vs Napoli, Lorenzo Insigne
Insigne remains unavailable for this crucial fixture for Gattuso’s men (Picture Source: Twitter)

The last time we saw these two go head to head was almost 6 months ago at Stadio San Paolo. Since then pandemic shook the whole world and most leagues didn’t play any matches for almost 3 months until the FIFA board green-lit to play but without any spectators.

In leg one of the round of 16, we saw Napoli draw with the Catalan giants. Entering the 2nd leg of this round Barcelona currently has an away goal lead. Mertens was the one who found the back of the net for Napoli and for Barca, their most expensive signing this year Griezmann found the back of the net.

A total of 6 yellow cards were given to players of both teams. Griezmann, Messi, and Busquets were penalized with a yellow card and Vidal was sent off at the 89th minute by procuring the second yellow card of the match and for the Italian side, Mario Rui and Insigne were penalized with a yellow card. Even with only 33% possession, Napoli didn’t get tempted in making mistakes. Although the Blaugranas had 67% of possession and 90% pass accuracy, Napoli gave them a hard time.

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Since then, Lenglet had been injured, Dembele was injured and missed out on many matches and Frenkie De Jong followed the suit but yet played in the last La Liga match of the season. Barcelona had a good lead over Real Madrid and was at the top of the table before the lockdown. After lockdown, Barcelona lost the title race to the Los Blancos. Losing the league was definitely a disappointment for the whole squad and the coach.

Right after the lockdown, Napoli won the Copa Italia by defeating the current Serie A champions Juventus. Right after the win, Napoli played a total of 12 matches and from the 12 matches, Napoli won 7, lost 3, and drew 2. At the end of matchday 38, Napoli finished at 7th position in the Italian League qualifying for neither Europa nor the UCL.

Both teams have had their fair share of problems this season. Napoli has recovered brilliantly in the second half of the season. Barcelona was going good till the lockdown, after the lockdown, their gameplay wasn’t as consistent as it used to be.

Barcelona still has to solve its defense problem. Usually in the back, Semedo and Alba make quick runs to the opposition and cross in or pass the ball just right outside the box for Barca’s forwards to do their job and when this plan doesn’t work out they usually lose the ball hence giving the opponent a chance to counter-attack. During this counter-attack, Lenglet and Pique couldn’t handle the pace of the strikers and hence concede a goal.

Barcelona has also promoted few la Masia players to the first team. Barca B captain Manchu was recently registered. The Blaugranas have to improve their defending capacity by increasing the pace and being alert at all times.

Team news

Napoli

Insigne suffered a tendon injury during their last Serie A match of this season. It is highly unlikely that the 29-year-old will participate in this clash, which is a huge blow for Napoli.

Unavailable players – Lorenzo Insigne, Faouzi Ghoulam, Kevin Malcuit, Amin Younes

Playing XI –  David Ospina, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Kalidou Koulibaly, Nikola Maksimovic, E. Hysaj, Allan, Diego Demme, Piotr Zielinski, Matteo Politano, Arkadiusz Milik, Dries Mertens.

Barcelona

Samuel Umtiti stills is recovering from a knee injury so it is unlikely he will be in the squad. Dembele has started practicing with the team recently and is hopeful of making a return. Frenkie De Jong has recovered from his injury and will be in the playing XI.

Unavailable Players – Arturo Vidal, Sergio Busquets, Samuel Umtiti, Arthur Melo

Playing XI – Marc Andre Ter Stegen, Nelson Semedo, Gerard Pique, Clement lenglet, Jordi Alba, Segio Roberto, Frenkie De Jong, Riqui Puig, Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann

Stat Corner

  • This will be the first time Napoli visits Camp Nou for an official match.
  • Barcelona hasn’t been beaten at Camp Nou in the Champions League since May 1, 2013.
  • Messi hasn’t hit his usual standards in this season’s Champions League, having registered 2 goals and 3 assists in 6 games.

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