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Barcelona vs Napoli – Europa League preview, H2H, team news, predicted line-ups and prediction

Barcelona host Napoli in the first leg of their Europa League knockout round play-off on Wednesday.

The Catalan giants had a dismal Champions League group stage campaign earlier this season as they finished behind Bayern Munich and Benfica in the standings.

They now have to face Napoli in the newly-formed knockout round of the Europa League. The Serie A outfit are in this position, having finished behind Spartak Moscow in their group.

The Russian outfit were equal on points (10) but had the clear advantage on the head-to-head as they beat Napoli home and away in a relatively comfortable fashion.

Past meetings:

Barcelona have competitively met Napoli on just two occasions. It was during the round of 16 stage of the 2019/2020 Champions League.

The Blaugrana won the first leg at Camp Nou by a 3-1 scoreline before a 1-1 draw at the Stadio San Paolo (4-2 aggregate win).

Team News

Barcelona are set to miss the services of Samuel Umtiti, Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto and Alejandro Balde with long-term injuries.

Clement Lenglet and Memphis Depay are fitness doubts, while Ronald Araujo is set to miss out after sustaining a soleus injury against Espanyol last weekend.

For Napoli, Matteo Politano and Hirving Lozano are among high-profile players on the sidelines with injuries. Axel Tuanzebe won’t play any part, having been left out of the Europa League squad.

The same will be the case for Dani Alves, who could not be registered by Barcelona due to competition rules. They were only permitted to include three winter signings and had to leave out Alves.

Predicted Line-ups

Luuk de Jong made the difference off the bench in the Barcelona derby, scoring a dramatic 96th-minute equaliser (2-2 draw).

He could be rewarded with a start up front over Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Ferran Torres. Eric Garcia could come in for the injured Araujo.

Barcelona (4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Sergino Dest, Gerard Pique, Eric Garcia, Jordi Alba; Frenkie de Jong, Sergio Busquets, Pedri; Gavi, Luuk de Jong, Adama Traore.

Napoli don’t face any enforced changes to the line-up, but Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa could come in midfield for Stanislav Lobotka.

The 26-year-old was only a late substitute against Inter Milan, having recently returned from African Cup of Nations duty with Cameroon.

Napoli (4-2-3-1): David Ospina; Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Amir Rrahmani, Kalidou Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Fabian Ruiz, Zambo Anguissa; Matteo Politano, Piotr Zielinski, Lorenzo Insigne; Victor Osimhen.

Prediction

Barcelona should have momentum on their side after the dramatic draw at Espanyol. Before that, they outclassed Atletico Madrid by a 4-2 scoreline at Camp Nou, but we anticipate nothing of the sort against Napoli, who have one of Europe’s best defensive records.

We fancy the hosts to pick up a slender victory, but a clean sheet is not assured. The La Liga giants have managed just one shut-out in seven games.

Barcelona 2-1 Napoli.

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