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What to expect from Barcelona vs Napoli Round 2

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The habits Barça should maintain as well as things to work on in the lead-up to the new season

FC Barcelona v SSC Napoli Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Following Barcelona’s 2-1 win over Napoli in Miami, the Blaugrana have continued to maintain their momentum leading up to their opening league match. With the second leg to be played on Saturday, the Catalans have one more chance to impress before the 2019/20 season starts for real. Let’s take a look at the highlights of their previous performance that they would do well to replicate going into this last preseason friendly, as well as the weaknesses that they should strive to blot out.

The Highs

Starting at the back, Neto was huge in Miami, limiting the damage of a shaky first half performance by the Barça defense. He stopped a deadly one-on-one strike by Lorenzo Insigne after the Italian outpaced the Barça backline, while Napoli’s only goal of the night came from an Umtiti own goal that Neto had no chance to stop after a mistake by Junior Firpo. Without Neto’s performance between the sticks, one can only imagine what the score could have been.

FBL-USA-ICC-BARCELONA-NAPOLI Photo credit should read RHONA WISE/AFP/Getty Images

The next true strenght that Barcelona showed was the pace and chemistry in midfield. Throughout the 90 minutes, each of Barça’s midfielders provided their teammates with simple yet crisp passes, keeping the ball rolling at a pace that Napoli struggled to keep up with. This is what allowed Barça to create many chances throughout the match, and eventually undo Umtiti’s error to win the game.

Finally, the Barça attack ought to be commended for their performance. The likes of Antoine Griezmann, Ivan Rakitic and Ousmane Dembélé showed creativity up front, often outwitting their Serie A opponents. Griezmann’s early volley after a deflection off Luis Suárez showed his awareness, while a quick, smart pass by Riqui Puig resulted in a long range strike by Sergio Busquets to open the scoring.

FC Barcelona v SSC Napoli Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

After youngster Abel Ruiz came onto the field, he and Carles Pérez linked up effectively as Pérez provided him a really good cross that forced Meret into a great double save to stop Ruiz. Other attempts include a Dembélé rocket that hit the upright, while Rakitic came close on a number of occasions before slotting away the winner with a nice finish from the edge of the box.

The Lows

While Barça’s performance on the night had more positive talking points than negative, the defense has yet again become a cause for concern. Samuel Umtiti seemed to be constantly outpaced, with Insigne breaking through the defense early and often.

As a Callejón cross came rolling across the face of the goal, it was fortunate for the Barça backline that Dries Mertens failed to connect effectively with the ball. Again, Umtiti was nowhere to be found. As Junior Firpo was easily beat inside the box by Callejón, it was Umtiti who put the ball into his own net. While the French international remains a significant asset in the Barça squad, his performance on the night raised eyebrows as to his status ahead of the new season.

SOCCER: AUG 07 Napoli v Barcelona Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

All in all, Barça have shown enough to inspire confidence ahead of the new season. Should they manage to overcome their defensive woes and build on their form upfront in the final preseason match, then this should be a promising season for the La Liga champions.