Competition/Round: 2019-20 Champions League, Round of 16, 1st Leg
Barcelona Outs & Doubts: Luis Suárez, Jordi Alba, Sergi Roberto, Ousmane Dembélé, Martin Braithwaite (out)
Napoli Outs & Doubts: Kalidou Koulibaly (out), Arkadiusz Milik, Hirving Lozano, Elseid Hysaj, Fernando Llorente (doubt)
Date/Time: Tuesday, February 25, 2020, 9pm CET/WAT (Barcelona & Nigeria), 8pm GMT (UK), 3pm ET, 12pm PT (USA), 1.30am IST (India, Wednesday)
Venue: Stadio San Paolo, Naples, Italy
Referee: Felix Brych (GER)
How to watch on TV: TUDN (USA), BT Sport 3 (UK), SONY TEN 2 (India), SuperSport 3 (Nigeria), Movistar Liga de Campeones (Spain), others
Following a very good win over Eibar in La Liga at the weekend Barcelona are back to action with their return to European competition: the Champions League is back, and Barça face Napoli at the San Paolo in the first leg of their Round of 16 tie. The Blaugrana thought they had an easy draw when this matchup was made in December, but things have changed since then.
Starting with Barça: Ernesto Valverde is gone and Quique Setién has been in charge for just over a month, and any real contender for the Champions League should not be changing coaches just a month before the knockouts begin. But Barça look better and are definitely more entertaining with Quique, and every match brings a positive sign that they can win at least one of the two trophies they’re fighting for this season.
But Napoli have made a real improvement since sacking Carlo Ancelotti a couple of months ago: new manager Gennaro Gattuso took a few weeks to find his best team and dealt with injuries to big players, but his Napoli team has beaten Juventus and Inter Milan this season and is looking really solid in all areas under Gattuso. They aren’t world beaters or Maurizio Sarri’s spectacular entertainers by any means, but this team is much better than they were before 2020 began.
Barça have a real challenge on their hands and Napoli have a habit of playing really well against the big teams this season. This is going to be tough, good, and all sorts of fun.
Barcelona (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Firpo; De Jong, Busquets, Arthur; Messi, Griezmann, Vidal
Napoli (4-3-3): Meret; Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Maksimovic, Mário Rui; Fabián, Demme, Zielinski; Callejón, Mertens, Insigne
We were AWFUL in Europe with Valverde and this is Quique’s first giant game in charge, so forgive me for being a little nervous: 2-2 draw. At least we got two away goals!