Napoli vs Barcelona Predictions and 2020 Champions League Round of 16 Preview
When Napoli and Barcelona clash on Tuesday in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 matchups, it will be just the first competitive matchup between the two sides. Barcelona holds the friendly matchup record 3-1 with the last game happening in August of 2019. Barcelona topped Group F with 14 points (W4, D2) while turning in a +5-goal differential. Napoli finished second in Group E with 12 points, just one point shy of Liverpool.
As a football club, Napoli has never won a European title and we don't believe the two-time Serie A champions have what it takes to end that drought this season. Napoli is having a mediocre season by their lofty standards as they sit in ninth, 24 points off of first place Juventus. That's a far cry from where they were last season as they were serious title contenders.
As for Barcelona, what can be said that hasn't already been said about the five-time Champions League winner? Yes, we understand that the nucleolus of the team is a full year older, but they are still right in the thick of the La Liga title race and Leo Messi is playing like the Messi we've grown accustomed too and leading the way. It helps that the rest of the team is once again loaded with superstars and so the drop-off or lack of quality/chemistry has not affected the La Liga powerhouse.
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As it currently stands, Barcelona is -305 favorites to advance to the quarter-finals. If you believe that Barcelona has what it takes to win their sixth Champions League title, you can get a piece of them at +700 which is fourth favorites behind Manchester City, Liverpool, and Bayern Munich. If you love backing high-priced underdogs, Napoli is the team you want. They are +225 to qualify and +8000 to reach the summit of the European competition. If you need some help with deciding on who to choose, Doc's offers up a great soccer service for you that runs almost 24/7/365. You can sign up now by clicking here.
First Leg: San Paolo, Napoli; Tuesday, February 25 @ 3:00 pm
Second Leg: Camp Nou, Barcelona; Wednesday, March 18 @ 4:00 pm
It hasn't exactly been the season Napolitano fans have wanted as they see their football club jump up to sixth position after an unconvincing 2-1 win over bottom of the table Brescia. Sixth may be good enough for some clubs, but after Napoli has been threatening for the Title in recent years, this year feels like a massive disappointment. Yet, after all the change and internal turmoil, the club could come together and take a moral victory in pulling off the upset against the almighty Barcelona.
Napoli's form of late has been great as they've won seven of their last nine games while scoring 15 and conceding just nine. They'll need to continue scoring goals for fun against Barcelona who lead La Liga in goals for by a wide margin with 57 goals scored. Napoli will need to focus on not conceding the crucial away goal in the first leg while hoping to catch lightning in a bottle in the second leg in Spain.
As for team news, Napoli have a full complement of players to choose from and it'll be interesting to see whether or not Gennaro Gattuso goes for the win and deploys as very attacking formation with the likes of Insigne, Mertens, Milik, and Politano, or if he plays it a bit conservative and sacrifices one of his attacking options to reinforce the midfield.
Probable Starting XI:
It's been a decent season so far for Barcelona as the Catalan side sits atop the La Liga table by two points over Real Madrid courtesy of a 5-0-win vs Eibar on Saturday. They were led, as they always are, by Messi and his four-goal performance, and with that win, the Spanish side should be confident in their ability to go on the road to Napoli and find a way to win the football match. Barcelona has an incredible away record with just two defeats in their last 10 games away from the Camp Nou. If Barcelona can break down the Napoli defense and bag at least one away goal, if not more, the Spanish side will fancy their chances at advancing into the quarterfinals with the second leg at home - a place they very rarely lose at.
In terms of team news, we know that the team will continue to be without Luis Suarez who is out with a knee injury, but other than him, this is a team that is fully fit and one that provides manage, Quique, with plenty of options and formations to think about.
Probable Starting XI: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Lenglet, Junior, Arthur; Busquets, Vidal, Rakitic; Griezmann, Messi
Napoli vs Barcelona Predictions
Napoli is having a terrible domestic campaign but if they want to make this season one to remember, an upset of Barcelona in the Round of 16 of the Champions League is the way to do it. However, I simply don't see that happening for a number of reasons. Napoli's defense is very inconsistent, and they give up plenty of goals. If they concede one goal in the first-leg, that isn't too bad, but good luck containing Barcelona to just one goal. Anything more than that, and Napoli can kiss their CL season goodbye as no team goes into the Camp Nou and overturns a first leg deficit. While we don't recommend laying -305 with Barcelona to advance, you can grab them at -0.5 +115 in the first leg or take the over 2.5 goals at -140.
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