- Camp Nou
- BT Sport 2
- Both teams scored in five of Barcelona’s last six Champions League matches.
- Both teams found the net in four of Napoli’s last five Champions League games.
- The teams drew 1-1 in their Last 16 first leg tie in February.
- Napoli drew 1-1 in three of their last four Champions League fixtures.
Barcelona’s last chance for silverware
After an overwhelmingly disappointing 2019/20 domestic campaign that saw Barcelona relinquish their La Liga title to bitter rivals Real Madrid, the Champions League represents the Catalonian giant’s last shot at glory for the season.
Far from the dominant force they once were, Barcelona carry plenty of problems into their crucial Last 16 second leg with Napoli on Saturday however.
With current manager Quique Setién’s future continuing to look certain, Barca won just five of their last nine fixtures of their La Liga programme, and while results at the Camp Nou have been good, the performances behind them haven’t.
With several key performers out of form, and midfield pair Arturo Vidal and Sergio Busquets both out suspended, the chances of an upset this weekend against a dangerous Napoli outfit feel high.
Napoli looking to make history
Serie A side Napoli have never made it beyond the Last 16 stage of the Champions League, though the Partenopei might feel that a favourable set of circumstances could allow them to progress to the competition’s last eight this week.
Napoli lost just one of their last 13 games in the competition in a run that stretches all the way back to September 2018, and having already performed well and taken four points from current title holders Liverpool before the turn of the year, they have shown an appetite for the big occasion.
Napoli managed to stay unbeaten right through their Champions League crusade to date in 2019/20, and while their Serie A campaign was littered with inconsistency, Gennaro Gattuso’s charges finished on a real high with an impressive 3-1 win over Lazio last weekend.
Goals at either end forecast
In February’s first leg tie between Napoli and Barcelona at the Stadio San Paolo, the sides looked extremely well matched on their way to sharing the spoils with a 1-1 draw – and Saturday’s return fixture promises to be just as keenly contested.
Barca have looked defensively vulnerable in the Champions League, keeping just one clean sheet in their last six tussles in the tournament since early October, and Napoli, who notched at least once in six of their seven UCL fixtures to date, have the final third quality to cause numerous headaches for their hosts this weekend.
Keeping a Barcelona team out that registered in 22 of their 24 home games this season at the other end should prove extremely tough for a Napoli rearguard that kept just three clean sheets in their last 18 away matches however.
The aforementioned factors at play make the both teams to score market an extremely attractive option at the odds quoted, and when you consider that both teams found the net in five of Barca’s last six and in four of Napoli’s last five Champions League assignments, that market looks the smartest avenue of approach for Saturday’s showpiece second leg.
Our correct score prediction of 1-1 ties in with that same reasoning. Three of Napoli’s last four Champions League fixtures finished with that scoreline, and having held Barca to a 1-1 draw in Naples back in February, Gattuso’s charges can take the five-times winners to extra time.
With the pressure on Barcelona to perform certain to be enormous this week following their domestic disappointments, we think Napoli can harness the freedom afforded to them by their underdog tags to push their hosts all the way at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona vs Napoli predicted line-ups:
Injured: Ousmane Dembele, Samuel Umtiti (doubtful)
Suspended: Arturo Vidal, Sergio Busquets
Cup tied: Martin Braithwaite
Predicted line-up: ter Stegen – Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Alba – de Jong, Roberto, Rakitic – Messi, Griezmann, Suarez
Injured: Nikola Maksimovic, Lorenzo Insigne (doubtful)
Cup tied: Victor Osimhen
Predicted line-up: Ospina – Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Rui – Demme, Ruiz, Zielinski – Callejon, Elmas, Mertens
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