Barcelona experienced quite a difficult game when they came to Napoli’s visitors in the first round of the 1/8 Champions League. Despite this, they still earned a valuable 1-1 draw on the day Messi “knocked out”, Pique was injured, and Vidal was sent off.
Napoli results in 1-1 Barca
Napoli: Mertens (30th min)
Barca: Griezmann (57th min)
Napoli entered an important match with Barca without the service of pillar-back Kalidou Koulibaly. Despite this, they still defended extremely well when receiving opponents from Spain who had just defeated Eibar to 5 goals in the 25th La Liga round.
In the first half, Napoli had only 30% of the ball, but they did not let Barca hit the finish line. This is the match that rookie Antoine Griezmann of Barca almost “disappeared” on the attack line, while the efforts of the main striker Lionel Messi are not effective.
Despite being impressed by a poker shot against Eibar, all that Messi did before the break was just a left foot kick that flew the ball over the bar after a smash with midfielder Frenkie De Jong. Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the pitch, striker Dries Mertens alone has at least twice threatened Barca’s goal and he has scored a valuable goal.
30 minutes into the game, Junior Firpo left-back with a touch of the ball fumbled to create conditions for Piotr Zielinski to exit and stretch smoothly for Dries Mertens. Do not miss the unexpected opportunity, Mertens in an unaccompanied position immediately made a very tight and dangerous shot that made goalkeeper Ter Stegen just stand like heaven watching the ball into the net.
With this definitive finish, Mertens caught up with Marek Hamsik’s record to become one of the two top scorers for Napoli ever. Unfortunately, while sublimation, Mertens was injured after a collision with Sergio Busquets after 55 minutes and could not continue playing.
With a foul that caused Mertens to be on the pitch, Busquets received a yellow card and will miss the second leg because of a suspension. Without Mertens’ service, Napoli’s attack was significantly reduced, while Busquets made more efforts after knowing he had to be the audience at the rematch.
In the 57th minute, he launched a Napoli-tearing pass to create a right-wing cross for right-back Nelson Semedo to let Griezmann beat goalkeeper David Ospina in the face. Notably, this is the first goal of the French striker away in the Champions League from February 2017 to the present (his remaining 8 goals in that period all took place at home).
After letting Barca equalize, Napoli took the initiative to push the team up and they were able to create clear opportunities in the 61st and 63rd minutes. If not for the excellence of goalkeeper Ter Stegen, surely Insigne and Callejon helped the home team re-lead the lead with a shot from close range.
The aforementioned situation is like a warning to force Barca defenders to play more alert. In the remaining minutes, they maintained the necessary concentration to prevent Napoli from creating any more remarkable ball.
At the top, Messi and his teammates could not do better than Napoli’s strikers. Although the two sides were powerless in finding more goals, the end of the match still did not lack noticeable details.
The first is that Barca’s feeble midfielder Arturo Vidal received a red card in the 89th minute after a rough challenge with Mario Rui. After that, the visitors had to suffer an additional loss of force when defender Gerard Pique was injured and had to make way for Clement Lenglet.
With a series of such unexpected incidents, Barca will surely have much to do in the second leg. Anyway, with a goal “capital” was away, they also won a little advantage because just holding the opponent 0-0 at the Nou Camp will win tickets to the quarterfinals.
The Napoli coach regretted not being able to beat Barca
Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso could not hide his regret after being held by Barca in the first leg of the first round of the C1 Cup.
Barca had a lot of difficulties against Napoli in the first leg of the round of 1/8 of the C1 Cup. Dries Mertens put Napoli ahead with the opening goal in the 30th minute. However, Griezmann’s goal in the 57th minute fixed the result of the match.
Speaking to the press conference after the match on Sky Sport Italia, Napoli coach Gattuso said: “Since the opening whistle, Barca has pushed 5 or 6 players to systematically attack. They forced us to fall deep in defense and we have to play like that because if there is room there, they can really hurt us.
I think Barca hardly caused us any problems in this match, they hardly got a shot on target. They could be there all night and not scoring goals, but we paid the price for only one mistake.
We could have done better in a few counter-attacks, but the team did what it could. We gave them very few chances.
I was a bit disappointed that we didn’t create many bottom-up shots and controlled the ball, but a bit of fatigue could happen if you were overworked for 90 minutes. Unfortunately, you cannot make a mistake when confronting Barca.
We will have time to prepare for the second leg and know that they will be missing Sergio Busquets and Arturo Vidal because of suspension. Our mission is to go there and compete. Napoli has many good players, Barcelona has more things, but if we play focused then we can have the opportunity. “
Barca will host Napoli in the second leg of the second round of the C1 Cup at the Nou Camp at 3:00 on March 19.
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