Barcelona, Feb 23 (EFE).- Barcelona on Thursday will have a test of the caliber of Napoli for a place in the Europa League last-16, having settled for a disappointing first-leg 1-1 home draw.
Although the result does not give the Italian side any advantage with the away goal rule abolished, it certainly points out what Barcelona need to improve to go further in the tournament.
The Catalan club dominated the game, especially the second half, but they failed to capitalize on any of the 21 chances they had to score.
It was Ferran Torres who scored the equalizer from the 12-yard spot in the second half, canceling out Piotr Zieliński’s goal.
Afterwards, however, they routed Valencia 4-1 at a Mestalla that saw Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang score a hat-trick and Pedri play in the second half to tame the rival’s reaction.
Barcelona get a boost in the defense line with Gerard Piqué being available having missed Valencia’s game due to sanction.
They, however, will still have to do without injured Memphis Depay, Clement Lenglet, Sergi Roberto and Ansu Fati, while Dani Alves is not registered to play the Europa League.
Napoli, meanwhile, will try to get back on track after a third draw in a row, this time against Cagliari, who denied them a chance to lead the Serie A table.
With the Europa League clash in mind, coach Luciano Spaletti did not start their Serie A game with Fabián Ruiz and Víctor Osimhen, but he turned to them in the second half in a bid to get a better result.
Osimhen did not disappoint as he scored a last-minute equalizer against Calgiari.
He is expected to lead the charge against Barcelona and Ruiz is set to start in an injury-hit midfield.
Frank Anguissa joined a list of injured players that includes Stanislav Lobotka Hirving Lozano, which could open the door for German Diego Demme to start alongside Ruiz. EFE