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UEFA Europa League Match Preview: Napoli Vs Barcelona

Written By Onyeka Daniel

Napoli will welcome Barcelona to the Diego Amando Maradona stadium for the second leg of their round of 32 knockout stage of the Europa league after playing 1-1 in the reverse fixture of the same encounter a week ago.

With the fact that UEFA have removed the away goal rule, no team is in clear advantage to progress at this point and with Barcelona dominating from the first leg, they’re expected to continue that way in this match. Napoli may have a slight edge in the battle to progress and history appears to back this up, as the Italians have progressed from each of their previous eight UEFA knockout ties in which they drew the first leg away.

But this was before the scrapping of the away goal rule. Barça have won just one of their last ten away European knockout games (Draw 4 and lost 5), failing to score six times but in the first leg, saw them fire 21 shots – a significant 35% of their attempts (60) in European action this season and this should give them to go all out against their opponent.

Style Of Play

Napoli’s coach, Luciano Spalletti likes to play the 4-2-3-1 formation even if it’s a slight variation of the 4-3-3 formation. With Nigerian striker, Victor Osimhen as the lone striker upfront, the team try to defend enmasse and play the counter attack, using Osimhen’s strength and pace to full effect. Barcelona should be playing their usual 4-3-3 formation as usually, trying to dominate possession and pinning their opponent in their own half for much of the match while probing for an opening score.

Recent Form

Napoli, in their last 15 matches played across all competitions have won 5, drawn 5 and lost 5. They’re unbeaten in their last 4 games with the last 3 games (Inter Milan, Barcelona and Cagliari) producing a 1-1 score line. In their last 15 matches played, Barcelona have won 6, drawn 5 and lost 4 games. They’re unbeaten in their last 3 matches with which includes the first leg draw and their 4-1 win away to Valencia in the domestic League.

Head To Head

Both teams have faced each other 7 times including their last two encounter coming in the UCL in 2020 and also the first leg of this encounter that ended 1-1. Barcelona have won 4 times as against 1 for Napoli while 2 has ended in a draw. Barcelona have scored 16 goals against them while Napoli have found the net 5 times against Barca.

Players To Watch

Victor Osimhen and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have been in fine fine form for their respective team and they are expected to fire their team to victory in this match while Lorenzo Insigne and Adama Traore will also be lending a helping hand respectively.

Read Also: Bettitude Midfielder Of The Year 2021 (Female)

Injuries And Suspensions

Zambo Anguissa, S. Lobotka, H, Lozano, K, Malcuit and A. Tuanzebe are out of this match with injuries while the likes of Lorenzo Insigne, Matteo Politano and Giovanni Di Lorenzo are questionable for the match. Barcelona will be missing Dani Alves, Samuel Umtiti, Sergi Roberto, Ansu Fati, Clement Lenglet, Memphis Depay, Alejandro Balde and Abde Ezzalzouli through injuries.

Verdict

Should be a close match but Barcelona should triumph eventually. (2-1)

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