Barcelona vs Napoli: Predictions, betting tips, odds & match preview
After a 1-1 draw at Stadio San Paolo back in February, Barcelona and Napoli reconvene in Catalonia for the second-leg of this Champions League Round of 16 clash on Saturday night.
Barcelona’s domestic campaign ended in disappointment as they allowed a seemingly comfortable lead at the top of the La Liga table to disappear, with Real Madrid’s run of nine straight wins carrying them to a first title since 2017 ahead of their El Clasico rivals.
As such, Blaugrana’s attention now turns to the Champions League as their only remaining opportunity to add some silverware to the trophy cabinet this season. The Catalonians have struggled by their own incredibly high standards in this competition of late though, failing to lift the famous trophy since in the last five years, having won three of the previous six editions before that barren run.
It’s usually away from home where Barcelona struggle though. In fact, they’ve now gone a remarkable 36 Champions League matches at Camp Nou without tasting defeat, so visitors Napoli could have their work cut out on Saturday evening.
Partenopei finished outside the Champions League qualification spots in Serie A this term, but did at least taste some success in the Coppa Italia, picking up their first trophy in six years by beating Juventus on penalties in the final.
On the whole, their league form did improve in the latter stages of the campaign under Gennaro Gattuso, who replaced Carlo Ancelotti in December, leading them to a 7th placed finish in the league. Alarmingly however, the Neopolitans struggled on the road in the final weeks of the campaign, winning just one of their last five games away from Stadio San Paolo.
This game appears to be in the balance after a 1-1 draw in Southern Italy, but in reality Barcelona’s quality should shine through and their stunning home record in the Champions League should stay in tact.
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Barcelona vs Napoli Predictions
Squawka Stat: Both teams have scored in five of Barcelona’s last six Champions League games, with Blaugrana winning four of those games.
Barcelona’s home record in the Champions League is absolutely exemplary. Blaugrana have not lost at Camp Nou in this competition since a defeat to Bayern Munich way back in 2013, a run that has now stretched to an incredible 36 games and should continue on Saturday evening.
They have however, kept just two clean sheets in their seven Champions League matches so far this season (despite not losing any, home or away) and they only kept one clean sheet against 20th placed Espanyol in their final three home games of the La Liga campaign, conceding twice against both Atletico Madrid and Osasuna in the other two matches.
Napoli have a raft of attacking options to call upon on the counter attack here too. Partenopei failed to find the net in only one of their final nine matches of the Serie A campaign and when you consider the qualities of players like Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne it isn’t hard to see why.
As such, we’re expecting this game to go to form, with Barcelona’s superior quality carrying them to the victory – but Napoli have enough about themselves under Gattuso to keep this one interesting with an away goal.
Squawka Stat: Frenkie de Jong made just 43 passes in 90 minutes in the first leg of this tie between Napoli and Barcelona.
Frenkie de Jong was added to the Barcelona midfield last summer, arriving from Ajax with the reputation of a deep-lying playmaker in the mould of many that had gone before him at Camp Nou and for the most part, he has lived up to that reputation, retaining and recycling possession almost at will in La Liga.
In the Champions League however, the Catalonian side haven’t been as dominant in possession and as such, de Jong’s 700 passes completed in seven appearances leave him averaging just 57 passes per game in the competition. In most teams, that’s an impressive number but at Barça with their distinctly possession-based style, it’s less eye-catching.
Bet365 offer a cut-off for pass-stats based with the same odds of 5/6 available on both under and over that number. The cut-off for this game is 70.5 and given that the Dutchman made just 43 passes in the first leg of this game, we think there’s serious value in the Unders bet here.
Frenkie De Jong’s performance radar in the Champions League this season. He ranks well for passes completed – but not quite as well as the odds suggest.
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