Barcelona who is yet to get their hands on the first trophy of the season is desperate to change the scenario against a Napoli team who already have bagged Copa Italia.
The grass was greener back in the days:
Last night Pep Guardiola masterfully crafted the progress of his team into the Champions League quarter-finals after they defeated Real Madrid comprehensively. The Catalan manager of Barcelona was no stranger to the feat of defeating Los Blancos during his tenure at F.C Barcelona and apparently, he hasn’t lost his edge when it came to outplaying the men in white, who incidentally donned Spring Pink kits last night.
But as is inevitable, the time has passed on and now there is no Guardiola to orchestrate a victory again at Camp Nou.
Barcelona won every trophy they could possibly win under Pep but now, in recent years, things have gone south for the Blaugranas.
The recent trepidations:
Barcelona has suffered the second leg defeats successively for two years, even after acquiring a comfortable lead in the first leg. The dreadful performance at Roma, which was Spanish legend Iniesta’s last Champions League match, sent shockwaves around the world. Was this an era, questions arose. But a 3-0 thumping against Liverpool FC at home assured the Cules that perhaps, all hope was not lost. Perhaps, what happened in Rome was an accident, never to be repeated. But reality hit them with an even more abysmal performance which saw them get knocked out of the Champions League after conceding 4 to a depleted Liverpool attack, without Mohammed Salah and Roberto Firmino to lead the charge against Messi’s men.
This time around, Barcelona is ahead by an away goal scored at Naples and the Setien’s men’s hearts will be fluttering. Rumors about Setien being sacked are making rounds in the press and if the former Real Betis coach fails to deliver today, it’ll be not a surprise to see that rumor turn into a reality.
Gennaro Gattuso, the former A.C Milan combative midfielder is now the manager of S.S.C Napoli. Gattuso, who was famous for his no holds barred style of play has already won the Italian outfits a trophy, defeating Ronaldo’s Juventus in the final. Napoli knows from previous experiences that Barcelona is not invincible. Their multiple falters throughout the season highlight this for themselves as the Blaugranas surrendered their lead at the top of the table to Zidane’s Real Madrid.
It’ll not be a shock to see Napoli try out and out for causing an upset. It’ll definitely be upset if Napoli proceeds through to the Quarter Final because the great magician still holds the fort of Camp Nou. As long as Messi is there, Barcelona would be hopeful. They’d be hopeful the mercurial genius will carve out a moment that’ll see the Koulibaly’s defense line concede because they know, goals are scarce from other sources.
Who to look out for?
Barcelona does have a formidable attack with Messi, Suarez, Griezmann, and Fati but it’s their midfield that has looked shaky throughout the season as the manager has struggled to find his best functioning combination. Rakitic has been underperforming this season and Arturo Vidal, the warrior heart Chilean is not the same player he was at Juventus.
Frenkie De Jong is definitely a bright spark in the middle and so is Puig but are they experienced enough to hold the reins of a Barcelona midfield at the biggest stage? Remains to be seen.
Arthur Melo, the Brazilian who was deemed to the heir of the great Xavi has gone AWOL. He has refused to play any further part in the season for Barcelona after he was made aware that he would be swapped for Pjanic after the termination of the next season. A revolt against the club would definitely affect the morale of the players. Would it fire them up or would it peeve them? The fans would be eager to see.
Napoli might have to start the game without their talisman Lorenzo Insigne. They would still have a very competent forward line consisting of Mertens, Lozano and Callejon. Koulibay, the Senegalese defender is one of the finest in the world in his trade.
Unfortunately due to the current condition with the virus outbreak, the enormous Camp Nou will be missing their immense crowd support. The fans who witnessed one of the greatest comebacks in the champions league history against PSG in this ground will be beholding the unfurling of the fate of their beloved club on screens.
How and where to watch:
CBS Sports network will be broadcasting the match. With the CBS All Access pack, you can browse your favorite sporting action at 5.99 USD per month. But if you opt to watch all these sporting actions without the interruption of advertisements, you need to pay a tad little more- 9.99 USD per month.
TUDN and UniMas would also be telecasting the match. You can avail all the soccer action for free if you are a resident of the US or Puerto Rico, with the TUDN app. You just need to log in with the service credentials of your cable tv and Voila!
Sony TEN Network:
Indian fans would be able to watch the match on the Sony Ten network, available on Television as well as mobile devices. The Ten Network is compatible with a number of DTH packages while the SonyLiv app will provide you online access to the match from your mobile device.
BT Sports 2 and BT Sports app will also be broadcasting the clash. Though the BT Sports pack comes free in a starter pack or an entertainment combo that is available with BT TV, if you are a regular customer, you need to pay 10 GBP per month. A BT Broadband will provide access to every sporting action for the British users at 16 GBP monthly, whereas the non-users of BT Broadband need to access the sports pack at 29.99 GBP.
Reddit Users will find the game on the site and the app. Reddit streams are free and usually offer a high quality which is good news for those who have strong enough internet connectivity to stream the match. Searching the key words will surely display some of the subreddits where streaming links are available.
For people who would not be able to watch the match but would like to remain up-to-date with the action, BBC Radio 5 will be hosting a radio commentary.
Football fans all over the world would be glued to their screen to witness if Messi’s Barcelona can exorcise their second leg jinx.