Date: February 25th
Time: 1.30 AM IST
Venue: Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Napoli
After pulling off a draw against Napoli in the first leg of the Europa League, Barcelona will be hoping to finish the job against the Italian club when they face each other in a high contest game on Thursday at 1.30 AM. After a mini-defensive crisis, Xavi has a stronger looking back-line for this one with the return of Gerard Pique, who missed the weekend trip of Valencia through suspension. Although Barcelona is enduring a troubled season, Xavi Hernandez’s side still crossed the Mediterranean in good form, having gone five unbeaten and not lost in 90 minutes since Bayern Munich dumped them out of the Champions League in early December.
While Napoli’s Axel Tuanzebe, Kevin Malcuit, Stanis Lobotka, Zambo Anguissa and Hirving Lozano have been battered with injury, Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Fabian Ruiz and Kalidou Koulibaly are just a yellow card away from suspension. Meanwhile, Camp Nou is playing with Clement Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti, Memphis Depay, Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto and Dani Alves.
Barcelona: Xavi is confident that the club can progress past Napoli in the second leg of the Europa League playoff tie but has already warned that the match will test their capacity. Xavi’s men failed to finish their chances after playing close encounters in the 1st leg. The club had a terrific outing against Valencia in La Liga after comprehensively winning the contest 4-1. Barcelona’s new signing Pierre Emerick Aubameyang impressed everyone with his hattrick.
Napoli: The Italian club had a disappointing Serie A draw away on Monday, but Luciano Spalleti rested several players with a high-contest game against Barca in mind. The team will be hoping to better their results against Xavi’s men. The close contest against Lazio and AC Milan follow the second leg for this injury-hit Napoli outfit, who are still in with a real shot at league glory. The team must be aiming to avoid being dumped out of the Europa League at this stage for the fourth time in seven seasons.
Probable Starting XI:
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Dest, Piqué, Araujo, Alba; Pedri, Busquets, F. De Jong; Adama, Aubameyang, Gavi
Napoli (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Koulibaly, Rrahmani, Jesus; Demme, Fabián; Elmas, Zielinski, Insigne; Osimhen
Goalkeeper: Marc Andre Ter Stegen, Alex Meret
Defenders: Jordi Alba, Kalidou Koulibaly, Ronald Araujo, Juan Jesus, Gerard Pique
Midfielders: Frenkie de Jong, Adama Traore, Piotr Zielinski
Attackers: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Victor Osimhen, Ferran Torres, Insigne
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