Napoli vs Barcelona
Date: Tuesday, 25 February 2020
Kick-off at 20:00 UK / 21:00 CET
Venue: Stadio San Paolo (Naples).
The first legs for many of the Champions League fixtures are pivotal, but this fixture more than most will be important. Barcelona will still have memories of their capitulation against Liverpool in their mind, and the only way that they will be banished is if they can get their hands on the famous trophy this season .
The Match Preview
Napoli’s domestic form this campaign has flattered to deceive, but there are certainly rumblings that they could be getting back to their very best. Their Champions League form earlier in the season was a reason for optimism, as Napoli managed to come out of a group including Liverpool and RB Salzburg. The Italian side finished second in Group E behind the reigning champions, but they did inflict a defeat on Liverpool at the San Paolo Stadium. The Italian side would have been good value to top the group, but their three draws ensured that they settled for the second spot.
Domestically their form has picked up over recent weeks as they are back in the picture for a Champions League finish after winning four of their last five. Napoli had an incredible defensive record in the group stages, as they only conceded four goals, which was the same amount as the number conceded by Barcelona.
Lionel Messi will go into this fixture in the best possible form after scoring four in Barcelona’s recent victory over Eibar. That win coupled with a defeat for Real Madrid means that Barcelona have no leap-frogged their rivals into top-spot ahead of the upcoming El Classico next weekend. This is a huge week for Barcelona, as two wins on the bounce against Napoli and Real Madrid would highlight that they are back to their very best. However, they will need to be at the top of their game to get the win in this fixture.
Napoli vs Barcelona Head to head (h2h)
This will be the first-ever competitive meeting between these two sides. However, they have met on two previous occasions in friendlies. Both sides have recorded one win, with Napoli winning the most recent meeting in 2014.
Napoli Team News
Napoli’s hopes will be knocked with the news that Kalidou Koulibaly will be missing through injury. Kevin Malcuit will also be missing for the home side.
Barcelona Team News
Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele will both be missing for the Catalonian side. Meanwhile, Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto will also be out.
Napoli vs Barcelona Prediction
To be frank, Napoli have been faring a lot better on the road than they have been at home this season. In fact, they secured more points from their outings back in the domestic campaign. Miserably, 4 home defeats occur in the space of seven games.
In sharp contrast, Barcelona have been at the losing end in just two of their last nine outings. To make matters worse for the hosts, the Catalans are unbeaten in their past three trips across Europe, the last of which was a 2-1 win over Serie A side, Inter Milan.
Taking the aforementioned into consideration, Napoli’s chances of securing the bragging rights are certainly looking bleak. Be that as it may, the hosts have tasted success in two of their past three European clashes at this stadium, one of which was over the mighty Liverpool themselves.
Furthermore, it also needs saying that all four defeats that Barcelona have succumbed to this season have come from their trips on the road. Hence, it will be safer to back a draw no bet this week.
Additionally, the Blaugrana have been vulnerable at the back, especially in their outings. Disappointingly, they are yet to keep a clean sheet away from home since new year and have conceded five goals from their last three fixtures.
Meanwhile, Napoli have scored no less than two goals in each of their previous two games here. Considering the Catalans’ poor defensive record on the road, count on the hosts to find the back of the net along with Barcelona in this one.