At the Camp Nou on Saturday, FC Barcelona took on Napoli in a Champions League last 16 second leg clash. Here’s the result, what happened, and what we learned.
Next Stop Lisbon: FC Barcelona Versus Napoli Champions League …
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.
Quique Setien’s First XI was as expected
Ivan Rakitic stepping in for the suspended Sergio Busquets as pivot, there was no start for Riqui Puig as Frenkie de Jong and Sergi Roberto partnered the Croatian in midfield.
Next Stop Lisbon: FC Barcelona Versus Napoli Champions League …
An advantage inside 10 minutes
It was a scrappy start, and when Clement Lenglet rose to meet Rakitic’s cross and head the ball past David Ospina, the Blaugrana were already winning 2-1 on aggregate with an away goal from the first leg.
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VAR checked for fouls amidst the argey-bargey in and around the box, and to be fair there was one via a blatant push from the defender on his marker, yet the goal still stood.
They say the number 10 is hellbent on lifting Ol’ Big Ears once more, and in the 23rd minute, he showed it by a rough and tumble run into the box from the right wing that saw him battle and then finally fire off a shot into the bottom left of the onion bag.
Let the record show that De Jong, Rakitic and Suarez also deserve credit for their sharp passing in the build up.
Then there were three … almost
It took less than 10 minutes for Messi to double his account. Chesting a high De Jong ball down on the edge of the six-yarder, VAR was consulted for an age to see if the Ballon d’Or winner might have handled it before smashing his effort home. It was deemed he had, and so the strike was chalked off. Still 2-0.
Culers got quite a scare
When Messi went down in the 40th minute for a while. Neither he nor Kalidou Koulibaly were at fault for the collision, as the Argentine attempted to rob the ball from the center back from behind and the latter kicked out trying to make a clearance. There was a lengthy penalty check that eventually required the ref to have a look at a television set himself, before a soft spot kick was subsequently rewarded.
Suarez took it and converted
Messi allowing his close Uruguayan friend to do the honors, it was 3-0 on the verge of half time with Setien’s men in cruise control.
Rakitic allowed Napoli to pull one back before the whistle
Fouling Dries Mertens with a stab at his ankles, Rakitic facilitated Lorenzo Insigne’s consolation when the Italy international cooly slotted his own penalty past Ter Stegen. 3-1 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate. Cause for concern? To say that Barça had never allowed such a cushion to deflate in previous editions of the tournament would be concealing the truth somewhat …
End to end after the interval
The visitors needed one to mount a legitimate comeback and the hosts another to try and put the tie further out of reach. The end product was fast, attacking football from each side that was exciting to watch.
65 minutes, and still no sign of slowing down
No sign of any changes from Setien, either. In an ideal world, Messi would be hooked to rest for a potential quarter-final, but if it all went wrong, the coach would be unemployed by the turn of the week for such a catastrophe.
On 70 minutes, there was a scare and then relief when Hirving Lozano found acres of space but could not head Insigne’s bullet cross past Ter Stegen. Then a further one still on 81 when Arkadiusz Milik did what Lozano couldn’t but his goal was ruled a fraction offside.
Possession had swung in Napoli’s favor on the cusp of the drinks break
A 47% to 53% split to be precise – a rarity at the Camp Nou and surely something that the detractors would pick up on in the aftermath.
Monchu was afforded his first team and Champions League debut
Starring before Puig on the continent, the B team rookie replaced Griezmann.
Lozano hit the post
Again with the noggin, the Mexican 2018 World Cup star made Ter Stegen panic. It was, however, from a tight angle and the ‘keeper seemed to have it covered.
Five minutes of stoppage time
Though concentration couldn’t slip, it now felt improbable that Napoli could get two as Suarez was supplanted by a Junior Firpo possibly making his last home outing for Barça. The Catalans weathered the storm, and tickets to Portugal could already be booked upon the full time whistle.
Off to Lisbon the Blaugrana go
Where they will meet a Bayern Munich outfit that destroyed Chelsea 7-1 over two meetings. In the Final 8’s one-and-out format, Barça may only play this single game against the Bavarian kings, who are among the favorites to go all the way. But with Messi in blistering form and on a mission, they have a fighting chance.