After a prolonged wait these two teams renew hostilities in a Champions League round of 16 decider to see who will travel to Lisbon for the finals. Dries Mertens gave Napoli the lead when these sides met in Italy back in February but an equaliser from Antoine Griezmann gave Barcelona a vital away goal and leaves things at 1-1 on aggregate coming into the return leg.
Barcelona are on a 35-game unbeaten run at home in the Champions League prior to this game but haven’t won this competition since 2015. The Catalan giants have had problems defensively this season but with Lionel Messi they always have a chance of succeeding. Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal are both suspended for this tie but despite relinquishing their La Liga title, Quique Setien’s side signed off with four wins from five domestically and lost just one of their 11 matches since the season resumed. That defeat came in their last game at the Camp Nou to Osasuna (1-2) but that was their first loss at home all season. In the Champions League thus far Barca have won two and drawn one of their home matches.
Napoli will need to score an away goal if they are to progress to the last-eight but I feel they have more than enough in advanced areas to cause Barcelona problems. The Partonepei have scored in all but one of their last nine games but are also without a clean sheet in 11 games themselves. Again, issues in defence have been Napoli’s downfall all too often this season and with centre-back Kostas Manolas injured and Nikola Maksimovic doubtful, a patched-up backline could hinder the progress of Gennaro Gattuso’s team. Away from home, Napoli have just one win in five and they conceded more than once in three of those games.
Both these teams have been hampered by inconsistent defending this season and with real attacking quality in both sides I’m expecting this game to be one for the forwards to strut their stuff. I’m not sure Napoli have enough to win this tie but they can surely give their hosts something to think about and if they were to strike early, they could end up going through. Meanwhile, with a likely trio of Messi, Luis Suarez and Griezmann leading the line for Barca that is sure to strike fear in the Napoli defenders therefore I’m predicting both teams to score in this game.