Barcelona hosts Napoli in the first leg of the Europa League 1/16 finals. The match will be played on Thursday, February 17th at Camp Nou (Barcelona)
In autumn, Barcelona played in Group E of the Champions League. The Catalans earned nine points in matches against Bayern Munich (0-3 and 0-3), Benfica (0-3 and 0-0), and Dynamo Kyiv (1-0 and 1-0). Due to such results, the Blue-Garnets took third place and moved to the Europa League. For the first time since the 2003/04 season, they will not play in the Champions League playoffs. The Europa League actually remains the last tournament where Barcelona can compete for a trophy. The Catalans have ingloriously completed their performance in the Spanish Cup and Super Cup, and they are 15 points behind the leader of LaLiga. On February 13, Barcelona visited Espanyol in the Catalan derby (2-2). Barça was close to defeat but avoided it in the 96th minute thanks to a goal from Luuk de Jong.
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Luciano Spalletti’s team began their performance in European competitions from the group stage of the Europa League. Napoli took 2nd place in Group C, earning ten points in confrontations with Spartak Moscow (2-3 and 1-2), Leicester (2-2 and 3-2), and Legia (3-0 and 4-1). So far, the Neapolitans have performed more successfully in the championship than Barça. Although the Blues were eliminated from the Coppa Italia, they are fighting for the champion’s title in Serie A. Spalletti’s team is only two points behind AC Milan. On February 12, the Neapolitans tried to show their ambitions in a home game against the current titleholders, Inter. The match in Naples ended in a 1-1 draw. Lorenzo Insigne converted the penalty spot at the end of the first half, but the hosts missed the lead after the break and were left without a win.
Barcelona and Napoli crossed paths in the 2019/20 season. They played in the Champions League 1/8 finals. On February 25, 2020, the Neapolitans gained a draw in the home match (1-1). The second leg in Barcelona, postponed to August 8 due to the coronavirus pandemic, was won by the home team (3-1). The bet on an exchange of goals scored in the upcoming game looks promising. Problems in the defense will prevent Barcelona from keeping a clean sheet: personnel losses are too big, and the remaining defenders led by Gerard Piqué are not particularly reliable. At the same time, the Catalans must score at Camp Nou, as they scored at least one goal in four previous home matches. Napoli has a solid attacking line, which should upset the hosts at least once. But the defense of the Parthenopeans cannot boast of reliability. In the current Europa League draw, they conceded in all games, except for the home match against Legia.