Messi, Suarez help Barcelona seal the quarter-final spot with a 4-2 aggregate victory as the Blaugranas defeated Napoli 3-1 in an intense encounter at the Camp Nou. With this win; the Catalans keep their seven-season unbeaten champions league home record intact. Here’s the full match summary.
Messi, as usual, started in this highly anticipated knock-out game but he will have to be careful as he is just one yellow card away from suspension. Suarez was named in the line-up yet again despite his poor performances ever-since the comeback from his knee injury. The Uruguayan has a point to prove today as he hasn’t been instrumental in the champions league knock-outs in the past few seasons. Apart from those two, Griezmann starts on the left. The Frenchman was out injured for the last couple of Laliga games, but thankfully he was given the medical clearance just before this game. Similar to Messi, Antoine Griezmann is also a booking away from suspension.
Ter Stegen named again as Barca’s man between the sticks. The German shot-stopper has been one of Barca’s most consistent players throughout this season; if the most consistent one. He has played a vital role in keeping Barcelona alive, including the penalty he saved against Dortmund at signal iduna park which eventually gave Barcelona an upper hand in the group stage. Make sure to check out this exclusive article dedicated to Marc Andre Ter Stegen: The Unsung Hero.
Frenkie de Jong hasn’t lived up to his expectations in his first season at the club, but he had a job on his hands tonight. The absence of Busquets and Arturo Vidal puts even more responsibility on the Dutchman. Sergi Roberto is accompanying him in the midfield courtesy of his performances in the second half of the La Liga season. Rakitic has replaced injured Sergio Busquets in the CDM position. Rakitic has played in that position a few times earlier this season, and he has a massive responsibility of filling the shoes of the irreplaceable Busquets. If reports are accurate, then these are one of Rakitic’s final games in the Blaugrana jersey.
With Umtiti still out injured, and Todibo loaned out, Setien hasn’t got much to choose from in the centre-back position. He has stuck with his usual centre-backs, i.e. Pique and Lenglet. Clement Lenglet has been one of the first players on the team sheet throughout this season as he has been one of the most consistent defenders in the entire league. He starts with Pique as his defence partner, who is one yellow card away from suspension. Semedo and Alba have retained their position as RB and LB, respectively. In contrast, captain Insigne comes back for Napoli for this Nerve-wracking clash. For a much detailed preview and tactical analysis, make sure to check out our match preview.
Here are the Starting XI for FC Barcelona vs Napoli
FC Barcelona (4-3-3):
Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Alba;
Roberto, Rakitic, De Jong; Messi, Suarez, Griezmann.
SSC Napoli (4-4-2):
Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Rui;
Fabian, Demme , Zelinski ;
Callejon, Mertins, Insigne;
Napoli dominated possession from the very beginning much like the way they’ve done during the second half of their Serie A season. They almost scored a goal as early as the second minute of the game. But thankfully for Barcelona Ruiz couldn’t keep his shot on target. Gattuso’s men continued to dominate the Catalans for the next few minutes of the game but the Blaugranas replied with a goal from a set-piece thanks to Lenglet blistering header.
Barcelona took charge of the game right after the first goal dominating possession and having a few shots on target testing the Napoli goalkeeper. Barcelona put on some good attacks down the left flank with Alba while Napoli tried to the exploit the space Barca left behind but both pique and Lenglet managed to play Insigne offside every time they tried to move forward. Barcelona constantly tried to pick their way through Napoli’s defence which helped us keep Napoli away from our goal. Resultantly, Barcelona extends their lead and Messi as always, came up with something special. This man is something else. isn’t he?
Moving on, Suarez has been very impactful in these first 20′, five minutes later he pulled a chance wide trying to bend one into the bottom corner after being found by De jong down the left. Not long after that, Messi’s goal got denied by a controversial VAR decision as alba fizzed a low cross into Suarez who gave it to de jong and the dutchman lift it to Messi who chested it down and rolled it into the net.
A few moments later, Barcelona were awarded a penalty after a long VAR check as Koulibaby brought Messi down. Messi hands that penalty to Suarez who calmly finishes it. Napoli kept pushing Barcelona after the third goal and Barcelona were a bit complacent at the back allowing Napoli to move forward which led to a penalty as Rakitic brought Mertens down inside the box.
GOAL 1 – 0: Clement Lenglet- 3′
Clement Lenglet gives Barcelona the early lead totally against the run of play. Rakitic whipped his corner into a good area with plenty of space. Koulibaly went down as the corner came in. Lenglet, who was unmarked nodded it past Ospina into the far corner. A brilliant cross from Rakitic and a great end to it.
GOAL 2- 0: Lionel Messi- 23′
Magical Messi extends Barcelona’s lead! It all started with the immaculate build-up play by Barcelona. There were four Napoli players between Messi and the goal, but he jinked his way through Insinge, Koulibaly and Rui and he ended up on the turf but a deflection took the ball back to his path as he curled it past the goalkeeper into the bottom left corner around Manolas despited being of balance again! What a Goal. What a Player!
Perfect start for Barcelona to get a early lead.
GOAL : Suarez 3:0 -46′
Suarez made it 3-0 from the penalty spot. Messi went down on the turf as he tried to nick the ball off Koulibaly in the Napoli box, who was attempting to play the ball and ended up kick Messi. The referee awarded the penalty after having a closer look at the incident.
Suarez converted the penalty sending Ospina the wrong way before dispatching the ball into the top right corner to give Barcelona an Unassailable 3-0 lead.
goal 3-1 : Insigne-50′
Napoli have their penalty as Rakitic brought Mertens down in the penalty box. This time, the referee pointed to the penalty spot without any delay.
Insigne converted the penalty striking it low into the bottom left corner sending Ter Stegen to the other side. This goal will help Napoli keep thier hopes alive and during the half-time break.
Napoli has started the second half much like the first half; if not with more intent causing all sorts of trouble for the blaugranas. Barcelona conceded several fouls in Napoli’s attacking third, allowing them to take freekicks from dangerous positions.
Barcelona’s front three have hardly seen the ball in the first fifteen minutes of the second half. Guttuso seems to have instructed his team to try and cut off the supply line to the forwards, and it has worked well.
Napoli has attacked with controlled aggression and made Barcelona uncomfortable. A goal here would have made things very intense for Barcelona. The Second half didn’t have the same tempo as the first. Barcelona has eased off, while Napoli kept it going without conceding another. Early in the seventieth minute, a loose pass allowed Napoli to break quickly forcing Suarez wide who passed to Rakitic who lifted it over the top for Messi down the left. Still, he couldn’t generate much power on the stretch, and Ospina gathered the ball.
Guttuso’s men kept attacking and pressing very high in the desperate search of their second goal as they almost scored one with Milik. Still, it was ruled out offside by the linesmen and Lozano hit the post after heading a right-wing cross firmly down from a tight angle on the left.
Napoli continued to pile the pressure on the hosts with successive of corners. Still, thankfully the hosts didn’t break down and continuously threatened Napoli’s goal on the break keeping Manolas and Koulibaly on their toes. Barcelona at the end managed to hold on to it till the very end keeping the visitors at bay.
Lobotka to Demme – 45th min.
Politano for Callejon – 70th min.
Lozano for Zelinski – 70th Min
Elmas for Ruiz- 79th Min Milik for Insigne – 79th Min Monchu for Griezmann – 84th Min. Firpo for Suarez- 92th Min
Conclusion of Barcelona vs Napoli
Barcelona came into this game with the crucial away goal scored by Antoine Griezmann at San Paulo. The Catalans successfully managed to contain Napoli’s attack throughout the game apart from a few instances in the early in the second half. Napoli stepped onto this Camp Nou as the underdogs and with a “nothing to lose ” attitude which was clearly visible on the pitch.
The early goals of Messi and lenglet really sealed the game for Barcelona. The blaugranas comfortably made it to the quarterfinals despite of the lack of depth in the squad.
Messi as always has been brilliant once again producing a sublime away goal before VAR ruled out his second goal whereas our opponents Napoli came up with an improved performance in the second half but couldn’t find the goals they needed.
Messi and Griezmann on field partnership
looking ahead :
The Blaugranas will now head to Portugal for a quarter-final tie with Bayern, who have stormed past Chelsea at the Allianz arena following a 7-1 aggregate victory. The Catalans have less than a week to recover and prepare for another huge clash against Bayern in Lisbon. Players like Dembele and Busquets will be back for the next game and their addition will give us more depth in both attack and midfield The German champions are arguably the strongest team in the competition and the challenge that lays ahead is huge as there is no room for errors. Setien has a lot of things to work on before we step onto the pitch against Bayern.
For a much detailed preview of the game, make sure to check out the match preview that will be posted on the Matchday. Meanwhile, you can keep an eye on the ongoing transfer window as you can have access to the latest Barca related news on all Barca Times social media accounts and on this website.
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