Barcelona is set to host Napoli for the first time in a competitive match. – AP
Welcome to Sportstar’s LIVE coverage of the Champions League Round of 16 match between Barcelona and Napoli.
The live commentary for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match between Barcelona and Napoli starts Sunday, 12:30 AM IST.
MATCH PREVIEWAfter having three weeks to rest and process its turbulent end to the domestic campaign, Barcelona returns to action in Saturday’s Champions League last-16 second leg at home to Napoli, with coach Quique Setien’s future on the line.
The tie is balanced at 1-1 following February’s first leg in Naples, with the victor earning a ticket to the final eight tournament in Lisbon later in the month, a solution to the competition being disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though the draw was not the worst result for Barca, its performance was slammed by captain Lionel Messi, which declared it would have no hope of winning Europe’s top prize if it continued to play as it did in Naples.
Messi’s damning assessment of the team came home to roost when the season re-started after the coronavirus stoppage and Barca surrendered the league title to Real Madrid, prompting the captain to launch a new tirade against the team.
The Argentine’s outburst was interpreted as a swipe against Setien, who had never managed a team in the Champions League until he succeeded Ernesto Valverde in January and ended the campaign shorn of credit.
Even though president Josep Maria Bartomeu gave Setien a vote of confidence ahead of the second leg, it is hard to see the coach surviving a potential elimination to Napoli.
After all, the Champions League has become an obsession for Barca ever since its last triumph in 2015, while Valverde was dismissed due to his inability to steer the team to European glory even though his side won back-to-back league titles.
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The Catalans will be without the suspended Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal but are boosted by the return of Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong and French forwards Ousmane Dembele and Antoine Griezmann.ALSO WATCH |
WATCH: Messi’s Champions League round of 16 goals
“The first leg was a difficult game for us, they put a lot of men behind the ball and it was not our best game or result but I believe we can do better against them now,” De Jong told Barca’s website.
Napoli meanwhile is sweating on the fitness of forward Lorenzo Insigne after he hurt a thigh muscle in his team’s last game of the season as it came seventh in Serie A, its worst domestic finish since 2009.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Nelson Semedo, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Ivan Rakitic, Frenkie de Jong, Riqui Puig; Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann
Napoli (4-3-3): David Ospina; Elseid Hysaj, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Kalidou Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Fabian Ruiz, Diego Demme, Piotr Zielinski; Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne
HEAD-TO-HEADThe two sides have only locked horns once in UEFA competitions – in the first leg of this RO16 tie. The match had ended in a draw after Barca’s Antoine Griezmann slotted home a second-half equaliser after Dries Mertens had opened the scoring for the host.
Napoli form guide: W-L-W-L-WSTAT ATTACK- Barcelona is set to host Napoli for the first time in a competitive match. The last team to win its first away Champions League game at Camp Nou was Rubin Kazan in October 2009 (2-1). WATCH | SSC Napoli’s Champions League 2019-20 goals
– Napoli’s two previous UCL knockout matches have ended in defeat, losing 1-4 to Chelsea in March 2012 and 1-3 to Real Madrid in February 2017.
– Barcelona has progressed from each of its last 19 Champions League knockout ties after avoiding defeat in the first leg away from home, only failing to progress once, going down to Juventus in the 2002-03 quarterfinal (1-1 first leg, 1-2 second leg).READ |
Barca coach Setien unperturbed by future ahead of Napoli clash
– Napoli has won just one of its last 10 away UCL games (D4, L5), winning 3-2 at Red Bull Salzburg in October 2019. However, it was unbeaten in all three away games this season (W1, D2).
– Barcelona’s run of 35 home UCL games without defeat (W31, D4) is the second-longest in the history of the European Cup/ Champions League, behind Bayern Munich’s 43-game run between 1969 and 1991.
UCL Round of 16 match Barcelona vs Napoli will be telecast on SONY TEN 1/HD. Watch 2019/20 UEFA Champions League LIVE in India exclusively on SONY TEN 1, SONY TEN 2 & SONY TEN 3. The matches will also be available for live streaming on the SonyLIV app.
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