MX23RW : Tuesday, March 10 01:48:02| >> :600:1224195:1224195:
Feb 25, 2020 at 8pm UK at ​Stadio San Paolo
Attendance: 44,388
Mertens (30')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Griezmann (57')
Vidal (89')

Preview: Napoli vs. Barcelona - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole provides team news, predicted lineups and a full preview of the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie between Napoli and Barcelona.

Barcelona make the trip to Italy to face Napoli in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie having put together a three-match winning streak in La Liga.

The home side have also enjoyed a strong recent run, registering three victories in all competitions to boost their chances in Serie A and the Coppa Italia.

Match preview

Barcelona manager Quique Setien pictured in January 2020© Reuters

After a number of less-than-convincing performances during his opening weeks as Barcelona boss, Quique Setien would have naturally had concerns that his stint at Camp Nou could become short-lived.

However, having recorded seven wins from nine games, the former Real Betis man has now settled into life at the Catalan giants and will be confident of eventually edging out Real Madrid for the La Liga title.

Having come through hard-fought contests with his ex-club and Getafe, Saturday's 5-0 demolition of Eibar came at the right time ahead of what should be a testing encounter in Naples.

Lionel Messi had gone four games without finding the back of the net before that contest, subsequently ending that drought with the latest four-goal haul of his historic career.

The Argentine will now want to take that form into Tuesday's meeting with Napoli after only scoring twice from five outings during the group stages.

Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona on February 22, 2020© Reuters

The biggest concern for Setien ahead of this game will be Barcelona's away form, with defeats having been suffered at Valencia and Athletic Bilbao in recent weeks.

While they got back to winning ways on the road against Betis on February 9, the success only came courtesy of fighting back from early deficits at the Benito Villamarin Stadium.

Although Setien will want to keep more clean sheets on their travels in the long term, scoring at least one away goal will be the main target during the first leg in order to discourage a Napoli side who are seemingly on an upward trajectory.

Gennaro Gattuso initially found things difficult when being named as the successor to Carlo Ancelotti, losing four of his first six games in charge in all competitions.

The negative results led to Napoli dropping down into mid-table, a position once deemed unthinkable given the club's place towards the top of the table in recent years.

AC Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso watches on during his side's Europa League clash with Real Betis on November 8, 2018© Reuters

However, the former AC Milan chief has turned things around, guiding Napoli to six wins from seven matches, subsequently helping the club's cause in both domestic competitions.

Although Coppa Italia triumphs over Lazio and Juventus made the headlines, their work in Serie A has taken Gli Azzurri back into contention for next season's European places.

Several of their key men have chipped in with goals in recent matches, although three matches have passed since Napoli found the back of the net in the first half.

Nevertheless, Gattuso will not mind providing that his players continue their strong finishes to matches, something which may be required to keep Barcelona's away goals down to a minimum.

During the group stages, Napoli came through their games with Liverpool, Red Bull Salzburg and Genk conceding just the one goal, which came from the penalty spot.

While there has been a change in the dugout since those fixtures were played, Gattuso will want to see more of the same from his players, a resoluteness which will most likely be required against a team of Barcelona's quality.

Napoli Champions League form: WDWDDW
Napoli form (all competitions): WWLWWW

Barcelona Champions League form: DWWDWW
Barcelona form (all competitions): WWLWWWW

Team News

Frenkie De Jong warms up for Barcelona on October 23, 2019© Reuters

Setien must decide whether to recall Frenkie de Jong to his starting lineup, with Ivan Rakitic potentially at risk of dropping to the substitutes' bench.

With Martin Braithwaite ineligible for the Champions League, Arturo Vidal could continue in his role on the left-hand side of the attack.

Junior Firpo will deputise for the injured Jordi Alba, who is carrying an adductor problem, while Sergi Roberto has been ruled out after sustaining a similar injury over the weekend.

With having an extra day of preparation, Gattuso may opt to retain the same XI which began the win at Brescia on Friday night.

However, the Italian has plenty of alternatives, with Allan, Piotr Zielinski and Arkadiusz Milik all pushing for a recall to the team.

Napoli possible starting lineup:
Ospina; Lorenzo, Manolas, Maksimovic, Rui; Ruiz, Demme, Elmas; Politano, Mertens, Insigne

Barcelona possible starting lineup:
Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Firpo; De Jong, Busquets, Arthur; Messi, Griezmann, Vidal

Head To Head

Tuesday night's fixture will represent the first time that these two clubs have faced each other in a competitive match.

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We say: Napoli 1-2 Barcelona

Given Napoli's recent form, Barcelona should not have it all their own way on Tuesday evening. However, the visitors are starting to improve under Setien, and we feel that the Catalan outfit will return to Spain with a slender advantage.


Who will win Tuesday's Champions League clash between Napoli and Barcelona?

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Lionel Messi in action for Barcelona on February 22, 2020
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