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Napoli vs Barcelona prediction: Napoli 2-2 Barcelona
A big tie for both kicks off in Southern Italy.
Napoli have had a miserable season so far but, might just be finding form at the right time.
Barcelona meanwhile have dominated Spanish football for over a decade now but have endured some humiliating Champions League exits in recent seasons.
Barça have not lost in this round since 2007 and are under pressure to maintain that stat.
Who will leave Stadio San Paolo with an advantage?
Highlights of Napoli 2-0 Liverpool
Highlights of Barcelona 3-1 Borussia Dortmund
Highlights of Brescia 1-2 Napoli
Highlights of Barcelona 5-0 Eibar
Napoli vs Barcelona: Who will win?
Napoli, despite being the home side, are big underdogs to win this one at 9/4.
Barcelona are 11/10 to win in Italy for the second time in three months.
A draw is 13/5.
Over 2.5 goals is 8/13.
Both teams to score is 1/2.
Draw and both teams to score is 3/1.
Draw and over 2.5 goals is 17/2.
Dries Mertens will be Napoli’s biggest goal threat. The Belgian is 11/2 to open the scoring and 6/4 to score anytime.
Lorenzo Insigne will also be a threat. He is 13/2 to score first and 15/8 to net anytime.
Lionel Messi meanwhile has 114 Champions League goals. He is 3/1 to break the deadlock and odds on at 4/5 to to add to his tally.
Antoine Griezmann will also start. He is 6/1 to score first and 7/4 to score anytime.
Both Dries Mertens and Arkadiusz Milik to score is 9/1.
Both Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Kalidou Koulibaly to score is 225/1.
Both Griezmann and Messi to score is 5/1.
Both Ansu Fati and Messi to score is 6/1.
Napoli vs Barcelona: Match preview
It’s safe to say this season has not gone to play for Napoli.
In the last four years, Gli Azzurri have finished second, third, second and second but are along way of that this year.
On 10 December, Carlo Ancelotti was sacked as Head Coach following a run of seven winless Serie A games which saw them down in seventh.
Gennaro Gattuso was appointed a day later but he lost four of his first five games in charge.
However, things have started to pick up for them recently.
On Friday night, they came from a goal down to beat Brescia 2-1 at Stadio Mario Rigamonti; Lorenzo Insigne and Fabián Ruiz with two quick-fire goals.
That made it four league wins in five following victories over Juventus, Sampdoria and Cagliari.
That means they are sixth in the table, just below the Europa League places but a massive nine points behind fourth placed Atalanta.
A top four finish looks beyond them but they could still claim glory in a cup competition.
In the Coppa Italia, Fabián scored the only goal of the game as they beat Inter at San Siro in the semi-final first leg.
That means they’re in pole position to make the Final with the second leg coming up next Thursday.
This competition meanwhile provided two of their best victories of the season.
Back on matchday one, late goals from Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente saw them defeat European Champions Liverpool 2-0.
They also beat RB Salzburg 3-2 in a five-goal thriller at Stadion Wals-Siezenheim.
That helped them get through unbeaten with three wins and three draws.
However, this tie will be a real test of their newfound form.
Can Napoli make it through to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time at the ninth attempt?
Barcelona to keep alive their European hopes alive?
As for Barcelona, the pressure is on to go all the way in this competition.
In the last 11 season, they’ve won eight La Liga titles, six Copa del Reys and six Supercopa de Españas.
However, since lifting their fifth European Cup in 2015, beating Juventus 3-1 in Berlin, they’ve had a miserable record in European competition.
Last season, they beat Liverpool 3-0 in the semi-final first leg before collapsing 4-0 and crashing out at Anfield.
That was made worse by the fact, 13 months earlier, they beat Roma 4-1 in the quarter-final first leg before going out on away goals with a 3-0 defeat at Stadio Olimpico.
That was their third successive last eight loss following defeats to Atlético Madrid and Juventus.
Will this finally be their year again?
The Catalan giants have already negotiated a very tough group.
They finished top of Group F on 14 points, above Borussia Dortmund, Inter and Slavia Praha.
However, since then, they’ve had a change of manager.
On January 13, after winning four major honours in two and a half seasons, Ernesto Valverde was sacked and replaced by Quique Setién.
This will be his first ever Champions League match.
He has made a good start in La Liga though, winning five of his six matches.
On Saturday, Messi bagged his 48th Barça hat-trick, netting four and setting up the other, in a 5-0 home win over Eibar.
That’s four wins in a row following wins over Levante, Real Betis and Getafe leaving them one point behind Real Madrid who they face in El Clásico next Sunday.
First though, this is a huge European tie so in what shape will Barça leave Naples?
Napoli team news vs Barcelona
Since Gennaro Gattuso’s arrival, Napoli have been playing 4-3-3 and will continue with that formation here.
He does have a decision to make in goal.
Former Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina has started the last four games.
So he’s likely to make his first Champions League appearance of the season at Alex Meret’s expense.
In defence, they’re without 2018/19 Serie A’s best defender Kalidou Koulibaly.
The Senegalese international is out with a thigh problem which is a massive blow.
In his absence, Kostas Manolas’s partner at the back will be Nikola Maksimović.
On the right of defence, Giovanni Di Lorenzo is likely to get the nod over Elseid Hysaj.
On the other side, Mário Rui is one of the most attacking full-backs around so will be one to watch.
In midfield, Diego Demme joined from RB Leipzig in January for €12 million.
He’ll continue in the anchor role ahead of Piotr Zieliński and Stanislav Lobotka.
Fabián Ruiz, who’s likely to be in the Spain squad at Euro 2020, will also start, looking to defeat the Spanish champions.
There will be a change to the other midfielder though with Allan likely to displace Elif Elmas.
In attack, they have a lot of options to choose from.
Captain Lorenzo Insigne and Dries Mertens will both defiantly start having scored nine and 11 goals respectively this season.
That leaves just one place in the front three which is likely to be filled by Matteo Politano who joined on loan from Inter in January.
José Callejón, Hirving Lozano, Arkadiusz Milik and Fernando Llorente are the other options.
This season, Liverpool, Lazio, RB Salzburg, Juventus and others have all been beaten at Stadio San Paolo.
Will Barcelona be added to that list?
Barcelona team news vs Napoli
As for Barcelona, Quique Setién has very few options to choose from.
Despite the fact they travel to Real Madrid on Sunday, they will, of course, pick their strongest available XI here.
As always, Marc-André ter Stegen will be in goal; he’s kept 94 clean sheets in 222 Barça appearances, winning 13 major honours.
The defence in front of him is significantly weaker than it might be though with Jordi Alba out with a hamstring injury.
The unconvincing Junior Firpo will deputise.
On the other side, Sergi Roberto is expected to return at Nélson Semedo’s expense.
At centre-back, Gerard Piqué’s partner is likely to be Samuel Umtiti, preferred to his fellow Frenchman Clément Lenglet.
In midfield, Sergio Busquets will sit in front of the back four.
Frenkie de Jong and Arthur are likely to make up the trio with Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitić and Riqui Puig the other options.
In attack, both Luis Suárez and Ousmane Dembélé have been ruled out for the rest of the season.
So, controversially, Barcelona were given special dispensation to sign an emergency striker.
The chosen man was Martin Braithwaite as they paid his €18 million release clause at Leganés.
The Danish international made his debut off the bench on Saturday, providing two assists, but he’s ineligible to play in Europe
17-year-old Ansu Fati, who’s scored five goals this season, will come back into the XI alongside Antoine Griezmann.
However, of course, Lionel Messi remains the main man.
Barça’s club captain has scored 114 Champions League goals against a record number 35 different opponents.
Can he add Napoli to that list in an away win?
Predicted Napoli team vs Barcelona
Predicted Barcelona team vs Napoli
Highlights of RB Salzburg 2-3 Napoli
Highlights of Napoli 4-0 Genk
Highlights of Cagliari 0-1 Napoli
Highlights of Inter 0-1 Napoli
Highlights of Barcelona 2-1 Inter
Highlights of Slavia Prague 1-2 Barcelona
Highlights of Inter 1-2 Barcelona
Highlights of Barcelona 2-1 Getafe
All odds mentioned in this article are correct at the time of publishing and are subject to change.
Serie A table:
|2||SS Lazio Roma||26||19||5||2||60||23||37||62|
|4||Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio||25||14||6||5||70||34||36||48|
|9||Parma Calcio 1913 S.r.l.||25||10||5||10||32||31||1||35|
|11||US Sassuolo Calcio||25||9||5||11||41||39||2||32|
La Liga table:
|12||Real Betis Balompie||27||8||9||10||38||43||-5||33|
|14||Deportivo Alaves Sad||27||8||8||11||29||37||-8||32|
|17||RC Celta de Vigo||27||5||11||11||22||34||-12||26|
|20||RCD Espanyol Barcelona||27||4||8||15||23||46||-23||20|