Napoli vs Barcelona predictions, H2H and match preview for this Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League last 16, 1st Leg match. Read on for analysis and predicted line-ups as Barcelona play their first European game under Quique Setien.
by Mark Sochon – @marksoc1
Napoli vs Barcelona Preview
It’s the Champions League knockout stage and Barcelona are away from home. That has all too often been a recipe for disaster in recent years but fans of the Catalan club will be hoping they can start to put the past behind them with a strong display in Naples this Tuesday as they line up in Europe for the first time under Quique Setien.
In theory, this match may just be coming at a good time for Barça. After a very unconvincing start to life under the new boss, they’ve shown genuine improvements in recent weeks, particularly in the 5-0 demolition of Eibar at the weekend, their 3rd straight win. Leo Messi scored four in that game to end one of the longest goal droughts of his career, even though it had only reached four games.
Barcelona’s away day blues in the latter stages of this competition are well documented with heavy defeats in Rome and Liverpool ending their two previous Champions League campaigns under Ernesto Valverde. Barça have already won in Italy this season though with a 2-1 win at San Siro helping them ease through to this stage as group winners which ensured them the significant bonus of the 2nd Leg being at Camp Nou where they do have a formidable record.
Napoli will know they need a lead to take to Barcelona for the return. They’ve been having a difficult season in Serie A but have recently hit form with 6 wins from their last 7 in all competitions, including a home victory over Juventus. It’s sure to be loud and hostile at San Paolo but Quique Setien should have reason to believe his troops will be able to handle the noise and get a good result.
The visitors are still missing the likes of Luis Suarez, Jordi Alba and Ousmane Dembele to injury while new signing Martin Braithwaite is not eligible to play in this competition. That should ensure 17 year old Ansu Fati gets the nod again and the fearlessness of youth may just benefit Barcelona given the mental scars of recent away European failures that other players in this team may carry.
As for Napoli, they are expected to match Barcelona’s 4-3-3 but are sweating over the fitness of key defender Kalidou Koulibaly who has only played once in the last two months. So far in this competition this season, Dries Mertens has been their biggest goal threat with 5 goals in the group stage and the Belgian will battle it out with Arkadiusz Milik for a starting role up top.
Napoli vs Barcelona Predictions
Score Prediction: 1-1 Draw
Barcelona have shown signs that they are starting to find their feet under Setien and that’s significant as a few weeks back, you really wouldn’t have fancied them in this game. Napoli are in better form now, and they are never easy to play against at home, but this isn’t one of their greatest ever teams and the likely absence of Koulibaly significantly increases the chances of the Catalans getting an away goal.
We’re going for a score draw with Barcelona more than capable of finishing the job at Camp Nou to reach the last eight.
UEFA Champions League Last 16 Betting Tips (18+)
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Napoli vs Barcelona H2H
- Surprisingly, this will be the first ever competitive meeting between the clubs.
- The sides did though meet twice in friendlies in August with Barcelona recording 2-1 and 4-0 wins.
- Napoli have only won 4 of their 14 European games against Spanish opposition.
- Barcelona are unbeaten in 4 games against Italian sides since crashing out of the Champions League at Roma in 2018.
Predicted Line Ups
Ospina – Rui, Maksimovic, Manolas, Di Lorenzo – Zielinski, Demme, Ruiz – Insigne, Mertens, Politano (4-3-3)
Ter Stegen – Firpo, Lenglet, Pique, Semedo – Arthur, Busquets, De Jong – Fati, Griezmann, Messi (4-3-3)
We have match previews and predictions for every game in La Liga this season plus some European and Copa del Rey games.