Barcelona vs Napoli. Prediction and Preview. Probable Lineups, Team News, Stats, and more

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Twice in history Barcelona have knocked Napoli out of the Eurocup playoffs, will the Spaniards once again leave the Neapolitans behind?

FC Barcelona will host SSC Napoli in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 2nd leg match at the Olímpic Lluís Companys Stadium. The fixture will take place on Wednesday, March 13, beginning at 01:30 IST.

Parimatch News will tell you everything you need to know ahead of the upcoming match.

Barcelona News & Current Form: 

As funny as it may sound, after the announcement of Xavi’s departure at the end of the season on the 27th of January, Barça remains undefeated in both the league and the Champions League, and most importantly, Robert Lewandowski has regained his former condition. Whether this is a fluke or the result of fruitful training is unclear, but the fact remains that the Catalans have been unbeaten in all competitions for 6 consecutive matches, winning 4 games with two draws. 

Having returned to the race for 2nd place in La Liga, Barcelona are only 1 point behind Girona FC, the head coach said that the chances for the title are not yet lost. The Catalan club had a tough time with RCD Mallorca (1:0) last Friday, however thanks to a goal from Lamine Yamal in the second half the team got 3 points.

In the 24th minute, after a flagrant foul against Raphinha, the opponent earned a penalty in their own net. João Félix initially seemed to have called for the shot, but he was asked not to interfere by Ilkay Gündogan. Unfortunately, goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic predicted the trajectory of the ball. At the end of the match, the coach singled out not only the author of the goal, but also another youngster named Pau Cubarsi, who also has a big future ahead of him.

The situation is much more difficult for the team in the Champions League. In the away match with Napoli, the Catalans failed to hold on to victory (1:1), the goal of Robert Lewandowski was answered by Victor Osimhen, the teams showed a decent game. Boring, but decent, that’s the definition of Barcelona and Napoli of the last few months. 

Now the return game will be even more tense. To pass to the quarterfinals, each team is enough to win the upcoming match. If opponents again do not find a winner in regular time, the game will go into overtime. 

In general, it should be recalled that the Blaugrana reached the Champions League playoffs for the first time in the last three years – the previous two continental campaigns ended with elimination at the group stage. Another fact that will delight fans of the home team: when the Spanish have not lost away in the first leg of the playoffs, they have gone through in 20 out of 21 previous occasions. 

In addition, Xavi Hernandez’s men are among the top three clubs in the current season’s UCL in terms of ball possession, behind only Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain. Therefore, there should be no doubt that the Catalans will act as the number one. 

Ilkay Gundogan failed to convert a penalty in the fixture against RCD Mallorca

According to the Spanish social media, the game with Napoli is very important for Barca’s management. Journalists claim that in the case of departure from the Italians, Xavi Hernandez will be fired earlier. All because the club needs money, and the exit in the quarterfinals can quite well replenish the coffers.

After the match in Naples, Barça lost several very important players due to injuries: the prodigy Pedri and Dutchman Frenkie de Jong. Brazilian winger Raphinha is also recovering in the infirmary along with Gavi, Alejandro Balde and Ferran Torres (7 goals). Good news for Xavi is the return to action of central defender Ronald Araujo (wanted by FC Bayern Munich), who was disqualified in the last round of the Primera.  More and more often Xavi has to play the youngsters, who are trying to prove themselves while gaining experience in adult football, but it is very difficult for them.

Napoli News & Current Form: 

In the match three weeks ago, Napoli, supported by their fans, managed to equalize the scoreboard with Victor Osimhen’s effort, but failed to pull out a win. Back then, the Blues played tight defense in the middle zone. In the first half, the Italian club did not make a single shot towards the Catalans’ goal, but it was the sealed manner of play that allowed them to stand firm.

Like Blaugrana, the Italians are having a difficult season after winning the domestic title and are currently outside the European Cup zone in the Serie A standings (7th place), currently three points behind Atalanta BC and four points behind AS Roma

And this is despite the coaching chaos: after Rudi Garcia, who replaced Luciano Spalletti last summer, Walter Mazzarri was fired – now the team is managed by Francesco Calzona, so far the new coach has 0 defeats in 5 matches (2 wins and 3 draws).

Recently appointed coach of SSC Napoli Francesco Calzona is doing good so far: no losses in 5 games

The only disadvantage of Francesco is the lack of experience in coaching teams from the top divisions, however, he worked as an assistant to Maurizio Sarri for 18 years. In 2022, he took charge of the Slovakian national team, subsequently leading it to UEFA Euro 2024.

Under Calzona, the Parthenopeans are experiencing a certain rise: the club from Naples has not lost once, including in the first leg of the 1/8 finals with Barcelona. After that meeting with the Catalans Napoli played 4 matches in the Italian championship. First, they shared points with Cagliari Calcio, playing away in a 1:1 draw. 

Then the Blues won two victories in a row – they mocked US Sassuolo (6:1) at the Mapei Stadium and defeated Juventus FC (2:1) at Diego Armando Maradona. In the last round Napoli at home arena could not hold on to victory over Torino FC – the meeting ended with a score of 1:1, which distanced the team from the European top-6.

In other news, Napoli are preparing to move to a new stadium in 2027, as announced by club owner Aurelio De Laurentiis. The new arena is being built in the Bagnoli district, a few miles from the Diego Maradona Stadium, and will open in July of 2027.

Speaking of losses, Piotr Zielinski was not registered by the club for the continental championship and therefore will not be able to participate in this game. In addition, forward Cyril Ngonge (7 goals this season) and midfielder Jens Cajuste will have to give up their trip to Catalonia because of injuries.

Central defender Amir Rrahmani is expected to appear in the starting lineup, and on the attacking edge will be Osimhen (11 goals and 3 assists in 16 matches), Georgian winger Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (10 goals and 4 assists), who scored 4 goals in the last 3 Serie A rounds. By the way, Osimhen’s goal for Barcelona will make him the highest scorer for Nigeria in the Champions League, surpassing Obafemi Martins.

Barcelona form guide: D-W-D-W-D-W

Napoli form guide: D-D-D-W-W-D

Barcelona vs Napoli Head-To-Head Record:

  • February 17, 2022: Barcelona 1 – 1 Napoli (UEFA Europa League);
  • February 24, 2022: Napoli 2 – 4 Barcelona (UEFA Europa League);
  • February 21, 2024: Napoli 1 – 1 Barcelona (UEFA Champions League).

Barcelona vs Napoli Predicted XI:

Barcelona’s possible starting lineup (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Martinez, Cancelo; Gundogan, Christensen, Lopez; Yamal, Lewandowski, Felix.

Napoli’s possible starting lineup (4-3-3): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Ostigard, Jesus, Olivera; Anguissa, Lobotka, Traore; Politano, Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia.

Statistical preview of the match Barcelona vs Napoli:

  • Barcelona’s First XI average age is 27.9 years, Napoli’s First XI average age is 28.0 years.
  • The total value of Barcelona’s squad is 863 mln euros, while the total of the Italian side comes up to 535 mln euros.
  • Danny Desmond Makkelie has been appointed as the center referee. The referee has already served 5 games this season, showing an average of 2.8 yellow cards per game. 
  • Barcelona have served five or more corners in 14 of their 18 (77.7%) home games this season.
  • Napoli have had no more than one yellow card in five of their seven current Champions League matches.
  • Barcelona’s average xG is 2.06, while Napoli’s is 1.51.
  • Barcelona foul an average of 10.83 times per game, while Napoli’s average is 10.29.
  • The Neapolitans average 4.97 shots on goal, while Barça average 6.13.
  • The average total offside total in Barcelona matches is 4.85, while Napoli’s is 3.76.
  • Barcelona earn an average of 0.15 penalties per game (6 in 40 matches), while Napoli earn 0.24 (9 in 38).
  • Barcelona scores 2.03 goals per game in the current season, if we take a sample of home matches, the figure is even higher – 2.33. 
  • In all competitions, Barcelona receive 2.2 yellow cards, while Napoli receive 2.03. 
  • Barcelona have not lost in the last 8 meetings in all tournaments.
  • Napoli have not lost in 5 games under Calzona – 2 wins and 3 draws.

What has been said before the match:

Gaffer of FC Barcelona Xavi ahead of 2nd leg fixture with Napoli:

“It’s the most important game of the season so far. We are ready and excited. It’s been four years since we’ve reached the quarter-finals. Competition is the key word.”

“Our opponents are not going through their best moment, but they are still the reigning Serie A champions. We need the fans to experience another great night. It’s time to turn the tables.”

“It’s time to be able to reach the quarter-finals. It’s an opportunity, a game in front of our fans. We’ve got some absentees, but we have no excuses. We have to be brave. We are not afraid to fail, on the contrary, but we need to show that we have the level to advance.”

“Tomorrow I’m not the important one, it’s the club. I have an expiration date. But with the union of the Barca fans, with the stadium full, it’s time to experience another magical night. I don’t prioritize myself, I prioritize the club and the team.”

Marc-Andre ter Stegen has spoken out about Xavi’s departure from Barcelona at the end of the season:

“When Xavi announced his departure, as someone who knows him, I was sad. He told us that it wasn’t going to change and that we had to do our best. He’s a great coach who helped us get back to the top. Unfortunately, he’s leaving and it’s hard for me as a player and a friend to accept that.”

Calzona, new coach of the Italian side, about the importance of passing to the quarterfinals:

“It is clear that going forward in the Champions League is important for a thousand reasons. It is a stage where those in my profession dream of being there. We go there to play it openly because it is in our and my mentality. We have to do everything to reach the goal but we have to leave the field with no regrets.”

Barcelona vs Napoli Prediction:

The showdown between Barcelona and Napoli represents perhaps one of the most intriguing fixtures in the UEFA Champions League 1/8 finals. Both teams are the reigning champions of their respective countries, but neither the Catalans nor the Neapolitans are on track to defend the title, as they are doing very modestly this season, with their maximum being to ensure the Champions League qualification for the next 24/25 campaign. 

Since Xavi announced his departure at the end of the season, Barcelona have been playing better. The Blaugranas have managed to get out of the regression and are now on an eight-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, with their most recent matches in La Liga seeing 3 consecutive cleans sheets. That said, Barcelona’s classic domination glimmers only occasionally, with the club still suffering from a myriad of problems: injuries to Pedri, Gavi, Araujo, De Jong, Torres, Balde and Alonso are hitting the depth and quality of the squad mercilessly, and the creativity aspect along with game scenario dictation are very subdued. Lewandowski is not quite giving the performances expected of him (3 G + 1 A in his last 5 La Liga matches, 1 of the goals was scored from a penalty). Similarly to their upcoming opponents, UCL leaves a hope for a successful season, but it’s hard to believe in Barcelona’s fortune at the moment. The Catalans are seen as favorites for the match, but only the home stands speak for them. They won’t feel particularly comfortable after a 1-1 away win, and what’s more, Barcelona do not have the magic of Camp Nou, a huge stadium filled with a history of triumphs that puts pressure on their opponents. It’s much more convenient for the opposition to play at the Olympic Stadium Lluís Companys.

Napoli face Barcelona at a convenient moment, they have been doing well lately: Kvaratskhelia has started to score and Osimen is in great form as well. Since Francesco Calzona’s arrival, Napoli seem to have returned to Luciano Spalletti’s fundamental configuration: they’ve reverted to a 4-3-3 scheme and began to play much more convincingly, scoring in every match. With 6 matches in a row without losing, the Neopolitans are the second most dangerous team in Serie A in terms of expected goals (45.6), while the other attacking indicators like shots on goal per 90 minutes (16.71), completed passes per game (503) make them the best in the league in the aspect of offense. Napoli look much stronger now than they did 3 weeks ago, and they go to Spain with the ultimate fighting spirit.

In recent years, Barcelona and Napoli have been producing a goal-rich rivalry. In eight previous head-to-head meetings, the opponents have combined to score 28 goals (3.50 per game on average) – a high figure for such a long distance. In addition, in the last five encounters, the opponents have exchanged goals without fail. The Catalans are also playing well at home this season: they have scored and conceded a total of 38 goals (4.22 per game on average) in their last nine matches at home. Now, the rivals have every chance to upset each other at least once as well, Barcelona still have outstanding performers like Lewandowski, Gundogan, Yamal, while Napoli can also respond with a powerful roster – Osimhen, Hvicha and Zambo-Angissa are all in the line-up. However, this is unlikely to bring the total over 3.5 – this condition has been fulfilled in only one of the last five matches for both Barça and Napoli. The forces are roughly equal, nerves are on edge, which means that everything will be decided by one mistake. Nobody is in a hurry to make it. We are not expecting an open game, too much is at stake. 

Parimatch News staff prediction:

We say: Both teams will score and the match total will be less than 3.5 – Yes.