Barcelona started their United States preseason tour with a 2-1 win against Napoli in a highly entertaining match at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. Despite some defensive issues Barça played a good game, and thanks to a wonderful performance by Neto and some strong attacking play the Blaugrana won their third straight in this preseason.
The first half was very entertaining, with both teams looking to attack and pressing each other high up the pitch to force mistakes and create chances. Barça had their opportunities with patient passing and plenty of movement, especially from Griezmann and Riqui Puig, while Napoli looked for long balls in behind Barça’s full-backs to find Callejón, Insigne and Mertens.
Both goalkeepers had to work hard and Neto especially made a world-class save when the game was still 0-0, while Meret was forced into action by a couple of Griezmann shots from outside the box. And it was with a shot from outside the box that Barça got the first goal from an unlikely source: Sergio Busquets gave the Blaugrana the lead with a sweet strike into the bottom corner.
Just three minutes later, a poor Barça defense was finally broken after a cross from the left found Callejón, who beat Junior Firpo with ease and tried his luck, and thanks to a deflection from Umtiti Napoli had the equalizer.
At halftime, a very fun game had both teams attacking well and defending badly, but for a preseason game it had good quality.
The fun continued in the second half, despite changes on both sides. The two teams continued to attack, both goalkeepers continued to work, and Milik had a couple of really good opportunities for Napoli, including one that was brilliantly stopped by Neto.
Barça brought on De Jong and Dembélé with 25 minutes to go, and the two set the game on fire with the Frenchman especially running at people all the time and nearly scoring a golazo if not for the post. Napoli continued to threaten on the counter and Milik missed an unbelievable chance against an open net by using his chest instead of his head.
But Barça were the better team on the pitch with the substitutions, and they deserved a winner. With 10 minutes to go, they got it thanks to a great strike from Ivan Rakitic after a nice sequence of possesion, and the Blaugrana survived a bit of a late pressure from Napoli to secure the victory.
Barcelona: Neto; Wagué (Semedo 66’), Todibo (Piqué 66’), Umtiti, Firpo; Rakitic, Busquets, Puig (De Jong 66’); Pérez (Dembélé 66’), Suárez (Ruiz 45’), Griezmann (Rafinha 45’)
Goals: Busquets (38’), Rakitic (79’)
Napoli: Meret; Di Lorenzo (Hysaj 77’), Manolas (Luperto 58’), Maksimovic, Mário Rui (Ghoulam 58’); Callejón, Zielinski, Elmas (Gaetano 58’), Insigne; Fabián (Verdi 58’), Mertens (Milik 58’)
Goal: Umtiti (OG 42’)