With the sides tied 1-1 after the first leg in February, Dries Mertens set the tone for an eventful first half as he struck the post after 90 seconds – but it was Barcelona who made the breakthrough when Clement Lenglet headed in Ivan Rakitic’s corner after 10 minutes.
Barcelona ( BAR-sə-LOH-nə, Catalan: [bəɾsəˈlonə], Spanish: [baɾθeˈlona]) is a city on the coast of northeastern Spain. It is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Catalonia, as well as the second most populous municipality of Spain. With a population of 1.6 million within city limits, its urban area extends to numerous neighbouring municipalities within the Province of Barcelona and is home to around 4.8 million people, making it the fifth most populous urban area in the European Union after Paris, the Ruhr area, Madrid, and Milan. It is one of the largest metropolises on the Mediterranean Sea, located on the coast between the mouths of the rivers Llobregat and Besòs, and bounded to the west by the Serra de Collserola mountain range, the tallest peak of which is 512 metres (1,680 feet) high.
Founded as a Roman city, in the Middle Ages Barcelona became the capital of the County of Barcelona. After merging with the Kingdom of Aragon, Barcelona continued to be an important city in the Crown of Aragon as an economic and administrative centre of this Crown and the capital of the Principality of Catalonia. Barcelona has a rich cultural heritage and is today an important cultural centre and a major tourist destination. Particularly renowned are the architectural works of Antoni Gaudí and Lluís Domènech i Montaner, which have been designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Since 1450, it is home to the University of Barcelona. The headquarters of the Union for the Mediterranean are located in Barcelona. The city is known for hosting the 1992 Summer Olympics as well as world-class conferences and expositions and also many international sport tournaments.
Barcelona is a major cultural, economic, and financial centre in southwestern Europe, as well as the main biotech hub in Spain. As a leading world city, Barcelona’s influence in global socio-economic affairs qualifies it for global city status.Barcelona is a transport hub, with the Port of Barcelona being one of Europe’s principal seaports and busiest European passenger port, an international airport, Barcelona–El Prat Airport, which handles over 50 million passengers per year, an extensive motorway network, and a high-speed rail line with a link to France and the rest of Europe.
Barcelona 3-1 Napoli: Messi and Suarez help Barca win 4-2 on …
Lionel Messi doubled his side’s advantage in style as he wriggled his way past three defenders, before bending a shot between another two Napoli players and into the far side of David Ospina’s goal.
The Barcelona captain thought he had further added to his tally of 115 Champions League goals in 142 games just seven minutes later, but a lengthy video assistant referee review deemed he had handled the ball in controlling Frenkie de Jong’s pass.
Barcelona 3-1 Napoli: Messi and Suarez help Barca win 4-2 on …
Another VAR review then awarded Barcelona a penalty in first-half injury time after Kalidou Koulibaly felled Messi – and Luis Suarez stepped up to net his 25th Champions League goal.
It was Napoli who had the final say at the end of an incident-filled first half, however, as Rakitic conceded a penalty for a foul on Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne converted to make it 3-1 at the interval.
In a significantly quieter second period, Insigne’s header early in the half failed to test Marc-Andre ter Stegen as Napoli chased a lifeline, while Kostas Manolas was at full stretch to deny Suarez the chance to put Barcelona out of sight.
Napoli substitute Arkadiusz Milik was on the pitch for less than two minutes when he headed past Ter Stegen with time running out for the visitors, but the Poland striker’s goal was ruled out for offside.
German champions Bayern Munich await Barca in the last eight after beating Chelsea 4-1 on Saturday to complete a 7-1 aggregate victory.
Messi stars as Setien secures important victory
Barcelona manager Quique Setien was adamant in the build-up to Saturday’s game that “at no point” had he considered his side’s second leg against Napoli could be his final match in charge.
There could, however, be little doubt that a Champions League exit at the last-16 stage, following a disappointing domestic campaign, would have seen his position fall under serious threat.
Ex-Real Betis boss Setien was hired as Ernesto Valverde’s replacement in January to reintroduce the free-flowing, possession-based brand synonymous with the club, but he failed to inspire his players to a third successive league title, or beyond the Copa del Rey quarter-finals.
Manager Gennaro Gattuso said his Napoli side were “going to have to climb Everest” to progress against Barcelona at the Nou Camp and his side appeared up for the challenge, as Mertens delivered an early wake-up call to the hosts.
It took Lenglet’s opener to settle Barcelona, for whom once again it was Messi that made the difference when it mattered.
Though there was an element of fortune to the run which preceded his fine finish – the Argentine stumbling between challenges – his commitment to the cause drew the error from Koulibaly which allowed Suarez to put the tie beyond Napoli.
The five-time European champions have not tasted success in Europe’s elite competition since 2015, but progress into the latter stages is a minimum requirement.
A potentially crucial victory for Setien extends Barca’s streak of having not failed to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals since 2007, but as the competition moves to a one-game knockout format in Portugal, his side will be without the comfort of the Nou Camp where they are now unbeaten in their past 36 Champions League home games.
Undoubtedly, Barcelona – and Messi – will need to be at the top of their game to defeat an in-form Bayern.
Barca’s quarter-final run goes on – the stats
- Barcelona have qualified for the Champions League quarter-finals for the 13th consecutive campaign. No other side has ever done so in more than eight successive seasons.
- Barcelona’s 36-game unbeaten home run in the Champions League is the second longest in Champions League and European Cup history, after Bayern Munich’s 43-game run between 1969 and 1991.
- Napoli have lost all three of the Champions League last 16 matches they have contested, despite scoring at least once in all six games.
- Napoli become the 57th different side Barcelona have beaten in the competition, with only Real Madrid (58) defeating more teams.
- The combined passing accuracy of both sides in this game was 91%, which is the highest in the Champions League since 2003 – when full passing data is available for the competition.
- Clement Lenglet became the 83rd different player to score for Barcelona in the Champions League, excluding own goals. They have had more unique goalscorers than any other side in the competition’s history.
- Lionel Messi has now scored against 35 different opponents in the Champions League, two more than any other player. Cristiano Ronaldo is next on 33.
- Messi has been directly involved in 12 goals – scoring nine – in his last six Champions League knockout stage games at the Nou Camp.