Barcelona are hoping to advance to the next round of the UEFA Europa League as they lock horns with Napoli in the second leg of the first knockout stage. The Spanish giants were held 1-1 at Nou Camp in the first leg, but the abolition of the away goals rule means Xavi Hernandez may only need a victory to secure a ticket to the Round of 16.
Napoli, though, could be a tough nut to crack, having enjoyed an excellent time under Luciano Spalletti this season. Along with the Milan clubs, they are one of the main contenders for the Serie A title, although the Partenopei have endured a rough patch lately, failing to secure a win in any of their last three competitive outings.
Napoli vs Barcelona Preview
Spalletti is unlikely to shift away from his 4-2-3-1 setup that will look to make use of Barcelona’s defensive vulnerability. The midfielders could play a particularly crucial role in offering creativity in the final third, although it will be equally important for the fullbacks to offer width going forward.
Although to a varying degree of inconsistency, Barcelona have thrived under Xavi Hernandez’s free-flowing 4-3-3 system that offers the attackers the freedom to operate in a flexible manner. The Spaniard could employ a similar system against Napoli, though it remains to be seen whether the defence can remain resilient enough against the Napoli frontline led by Victor Osimhen.
Napoli are facing a major injury crisis at the moment, with Lorenzo Insigne, Hirving Lozano, Stanislav Lobotka and Andre Frank Zambo Anguissa all ruled out. But on a positive note, both Matteo Politano and Giovanni Di Lorenzo are likely to recover and are available for the Barca clash.
Barcelona have a fair share of players ruled out for this tie as well, including the injured trifecta of Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto and Samuel Umtiti. Dani Alves is unavailable as well, whereas Clement Lenglet and Memphis Depay may not be fit to feature, despite returning to training lately.
Napoli: Meret; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Koulibaly, Jesus; Ruiz, Demme; Elmas, Zielinski, Mertens; Osimhen
Barcelona: ter Stegen; Dest, Araujo, Pique, Alba; Pedri, Busquets, Gavi; Adama, Aubameyang, Torres
Napoli 1-2 Barcelona
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