Barcelona 1-1 Napoli summary: score, goals, highlights, | Europa League round of 16 2021/22
Barcelona 1-1 Napoli | how it happened
Barcelona were held 1-1 at home by Napoli in the first leg of their Europa League knockout stage playoff tie on Thursday.
Barça dominated proceedings but found themselves a goal down to the Italians after Piotr Zielinski finished off a counter-attack in the 29th minute.
Barça forward Ferran Torres equalised shortly before the hour mark from the penalty spot after the video assistant referee had spotted a very subtle Juan Jesus' handball from a Adama Traore cross inside the area.
Barça were on the front foot throughout with their brand new attacking trident formed by new signings Torres, Traore and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but missed several chances to take the lead.
Napoli held on as they were bombarded in the last ten minutes, with Torres and substitutes Luuk de Jong and Ousmane Dembélé missing chance after chance in front of Alex Meret's goal.
The second leg will be played at Napoli next week.
Barça-Napoli tie on a knife edge
We head across to Italy for the second leg on 24 February for the second leg. It would take a brave person to call this one.
Goals | Ferran (pen) 59'; Zielinski 29'
Peep, peep, peeeeep! It's all over. Phew! What a game
Some dangerous play at the back by Piqué but he escapes intact. That's likely to be the last action as he clears as far down the pitch as possible.
We've had a long stoppage for a head knock to Fabian so still several minutes for openings to be made.
It's non-stop pressure from the hosts, the crowd willing them to a win, and once again an opportunity is well worked into the path of Ferran Torres. Once again, however, he gets under the ball and it flies well over.
He could be walking out of here a hat-trick hero. As it stands, he knocked in a controversial penalty.
Six additional minutes to be added here. Plenty time.
Chance: De Jong
Oooohhh, so close! The recently introduced De Jong with an audacious bicycle kick which flies just wide.
Barça really should be ahead.
Barça again threaten, and it's that popular French winger doing much of the damage, creating space then firing a low cross in front of goal that Napoli are fortunate to bundle away before it's tapped in.
It's Torres again with a great opportunity to help his side in this tie. Dembélé does well initially and short passes across the edge of the Napoli box eventually lands with the Spaniard who skies it.
Aubameyang has played his part and is replaced by Luuk de Jong. A winner on his mind!
The spark has gone out of this game and it's possible both sets of players would take a draw now. What's in store for the final minutes?
Big change for all you US fans out there. Dest is replacing Mingueza for the final 10 minutes or so.
Napoli change too: Dries Mertens on for Osimhen.
Barça still edging the best of the play here and Auba stretches his legs down the left channel. As he's held up he dinks the ball across to Dembélé in space on the other side, and the Frenchman controls and fires goalwards, hitting Rrahmani who got across quickly.
The whistles have died down somewhat, with thoughts maybe that they may need to cheer him soon. He's certainly trying.
OK, it's a whole lot easier when you're handed a penalty with which to do it... but interesting stat nonetheless.
First change from Spalletti sees Ounas trot on for Insigne
Dembélé is going to have to do something pretty special to get enough of the fans on his side to drown out the haters. And he gives it a go, sprinting past the covering Jesús, but unable to find a teammate.
Barça fortunate with the penalty
While the Barça fans continue to whistle the Barça player, I've just watched another replay of the penalty decision.
'Soft' would be a fair description, and I'm really surprised that the VAR decided it was a clear and obvious error from the ref to let play continue in the first place.
Interesting changes here for Xavi
Dembélé is ON, along with Busquets
Going off, Traore and De Jong
The Camp Nou crowd are making their feelings about the French winger very clear. Booing and whistling his arrival. That'll help his confidence.
Auba strikes wide but the crowd "ooooohhhh" suggested it was so much closer. They are really in need of some good performances and results.
Who turned up the volume in Camp Nou? I can hardly hear myself type.
The opening 15 minutes of this second half have been all Barça and the fans sense that they can get a lead to take to Naples for the second leg.
GOAL! Ferran levels it up
A low slider to the left and Meret is stranded thinking about diving the other way.
It's given! Penalty to Barça.
Ferran will be taking it... Big moment...
More and more pressure coming from Barça, Pedri starting to really turn on the charm, and Nico has been a constant in the link-up.
It's worth mentioning Aubameyang too, who has worked hard, adding to the high press when needed, but I'd suggest he's still getting used to his teammates and what Xavi wants of him.
Despite that excellent start, the aforementioned fear for the home crowd is being caught out by a quick counter. Hello Osimhen!
The striker collects around the halfway line on the right and just knocks the ball ahead of him and turns on the burners. Past one, past two... then fluffs his cross.
This is even more like it from the hosts. Neat and tidy in possession, switching play from side to side, and then sharp to win the ball back when they lose it.
There were enough signs in the first half that they could get back into this and they're just enhancing that view in these opening minutes.
Immediately the blaugrana onto the front foot.
From the kick-off the ball is actually worked back to Ter Stegen but then it's quickly moved through the middle to Auba, who feeds Ferran.
Only a brilliant challenge from Di Lorenzo prevents a shot.
Peeep! Barça get us going again...
Right, team talks done. What can Barça do to get back on level terms without leaving themselves vulnerable in behind?
As I said late in the first half, I see the hosts getting the next goal, they've had more threat, but let's see...
73,255 Camp Nou thanks
A decent turn out for Thursday night football here in Barcelona. And there's been a good noise created throughout that first half, although some of the credit for that must go to the travelling Napoli fans, who've been incredible.
Europa League HTs
A quick look around the grounds tonight and although we've got an interesting encounter in front of us here, it would appear there is some intrigue building elsewhere too.
The Scottish champions are leading one of the favourites for this competition in their own back yard!
Goals | Zielinski 29'
Peeep! The half-time whistle blows and we're in for oranges.
The threat from Barça again comes down the right, Adama Traore proving too much for the two or three men that come across to cover. Just not finding his target in the middle when he gets that yard of space.
Two minutes more to be added.
Another one goes begging for Torres. This time a relatively free header in front of goal, Meret relieved to see it fly wide of his left post.
Lovely controlled cross from Mingueza, after Traore stretched the defence down the right.
First booking of the game goes to... Anguissa. The Cameroon international was rather late into the challenge, and certainly prevented Barça from making any progress through the middle.
Whether Barça have stepped it up or Napoli have decided to sit back a little further, I'm not completely sure. Potentially a mix of the two, with the visitors more than happy to focus on the counter.
The point of note is that Ferran is getting into more dangerous shooting positions than any other player. Also that the Italian defence appears happy to take risks.
The immediate response to going behind has been good from the hosts. Tidy triangles, opens up space, proving a half-chance for Ferran. That is quickly followed by a Traore defender skin and cross, which had to be headed away on the stretch before reaching its target.
I fancy an equaliser fairly soon.
We have a minute of so for a review, I think for potential offside in the build-up to the goal, but the ref touches his ear and signals that all is in order.
Elmas puts Napoli ahead
Straight from that Barça chance, Napoli burst forward in numbers and Elmas strikes towards goal. Ter Stegen saves but the rebound puts it on a plate for the same player, who makes no mistake, into the roof of the net.
The best opportunity of the game falls to Ferran Torres, laid on by Auba who had drawn defenders away. The former Man City man looks to pick out the top right corner but pushes it wide.
Typical! No sooner did I mention the potential Napoli threat than that is exactly what happened.
Breaking out of the press, Osimhen was set free, running in behind the last defender and into the channel to the left of goal. He connects cleanly with a low drive but solid keeping from Ter Stegen takes care of it.
Twenty minutes gone and neither defence has been in major trouble thus far, despite some decent moves in the right direction.
Barça look the more settled, and are pressing really well, but Napoli have a counter attack just waiting to be released if they can step out from the high press.
More nice build-up from Barça in the middle, Nico at the heart of it, and Auba getting the shot away from distance.
It never really felt like the right decision from where I'm sitting, with other options available, but the Gabon international is looking to shine for his new club so I can understand his desire.
Great play from Nico as he steps outside the covering defenders and strikes.
The angle was always against him and Meret blocks away for a corner, but really positive from the youngster.
The first short spell of control/threat from tonight's visitors as Anguissa steps through the midfield with the ball and feeds Zielinski who tries to whip a ball across goal. Deflection means a first corner, but nothing comes of it.
A handy couple of minutes to settle any nerves.
Barça taking their time with the ball, knocking it around midfield and back into the feet of Piqué and co. They immediately spring into life, however, when out of possession, snapping at the heels of their opponents.
First chance: Pedri
Barça do brilliantly to press their visitors inside their own penalty area, Aubameyang winning the ball back and feeding Pedri on the edge. The young star controls and then hits a powerful drive towards goal. Just over.
Good start here from the hosts.
Barça are in their normal home blaugrana colours while Napoli in their changed all white kit.
The home side's first move forward is at the feet of Traore, but he's muscled out of possession quickly. It did take three defenders to do so.
Brilliant start from the Napoli kick-off. A totally misplaced pass rolls out on the halfway line. Maybe Spalletti's final words were for focus and communication to kick in from the second minute.
Peeep! We're off...
Ahead of the whistle, both teams go down onto one knee, and the crowd applauds.
Together we're unstoppable
The line ups are on the grass in front of a giant tifo in Catalan that translates to 'Together we're unstoppable'.
Players in the tunnel
It's almost time. Those Barça players must be looking forward to stepping out onto the Camp Nou in front of their own fans to hear the famous Chaaaampio... Oh, wait! Not tonight.
It's still a massive game though. Just not where they expect to be. Maybe next season...which would be guaranteed if they win this tournament.
Both managers have been able to put out pretty strong sides but there are some key players that didn't make it.
Barcelona: Araujo, Balde, Depay, Fati, Lenglet, Roberto and Umtiti
Napoli: Lozano, Politano, Tuanzebe
The new signing has shown plenty of the hoped-for promise since joining Xavi.
Defenders tend not to enjoy going up against him. Let's see how Napoli deal with him.
Europa League away goals rule: what happens if there is a draw?
The 2021/22 Europa League knockout stage - just as with the Champions League - begins today with a notable change to the rules.
How many times have you been sitting watching a game in previous years and found yourself, or sometimes a confused commentator, working out the complexities of how the potential of late equaliser resulting in a 2-2 aggregate score would actually change a team being knocked out to them going through to the next round?
Well, no more. Now two plus two does indeed simply equal four. Read all about why in the attached article.
Barça: on the road to recovery?
Barcelona are back in the second tier of European football after nearly two decades contending among the elite in the Champions League, a blow to its prestige and a further hit to its dire financial situation.
Tonight's game marks 18 years after they last appeared in the lower-tier UEFA Cup. They had made it to the knockout stage of the Champions League every time since then, winning the competition five times.
The Catalan club’s quick demise has been directly related to its recent financial struggles, which ultimately resulted in the loss of Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain last summer.
Tales Azzoni takes a look at how Barcelona’s financial struggles began and what the club has been doing to try to recover and regain its status as a top contender in Europe.
Spalletti ready for Camp Nou test
We heard earlier from Xavi, so let's have a look at what his opposite number was saying in the lead up.
"We must try to be the real Napoli at all times. We have the ability and the attributes to produce good football. We go out there to win games.
"We must keep on our toes and look to play our usual game.
There were some doubts about forward Osimhen making this but as you saw from the team sheet, he's in from the start. On the match itself, Spalletti said:
"A special game. We must be ourselves."
Starting XI: Napoli
Meret, Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Koulibaly, Juan Jesus, Anguissa, Fabian, Elmas, Zielinski, Insigne, Osimhen
Starting XI: Barcelona
Ter Stegen, Mingueza, Piqué, García, Alba, De Jong, Pedri, Nico, Traore, Ferran Torres, Aubameyang.
Four changes for Barça from the last outing as Mingueza, Eric, Aubameyang, and Nico step in.
Xavi: "100 days? It feels like I've been here 100 years"
Xavi Hernández faced the media to look ahead to tonight's meeting with Napoli. This what he had to say..
Have you a message for the fans?
This is an opportunity for us. The main objective is to qualify for next year's Champions League and we can do that via two routes - by ending LaLiga in one of the top four places or by winning the Europa League. We need the fans. We didn't have much luck in the draw because for me, Napoli is a Champions League side but our aim is to compete and get as far as we can. And the Europa League isn't the Third Division. It's a great tournament. Maybe not the best, but it's still good. The last teams to win it were Sevilla and Villarreal.
Have you found it hard to manage the emotional state of the team for having to play a less prestigious competition?
We're not kidding ourselves. We'd love to be playing in the Champions League and it's frustrating not being in it but we are in the Europa League. It's an opportunity and if we win it, we'll directly qualify for the Champions League. I see it as an opportunity. Barça and Napoli met a couple of seasons ago. We're motivated.
Click on the pic above and here everything he had to say...
Xavi's men will be looking to return to winning ways after their 2-2 draw with rivals Espanyol in LaLiga on Sunday.
Napoli come into the game following a 1-1 draw with Inter Milan at the weekend. Talisman Lorenzo Insigne put them ahead from the penalty spot before Edin Dzeko responded for the reigning Serie A champions.
Picking players: Barça and Napoli
Everyone's been trying to select the best XIs for tonight's clash.
In a few minutes we'll be able to confirm.
Blast from the Barça past
Oh how Xavi would love to have this Messi lad still playing for him.
Mind you, he'd probably quite like to have Xavi in his prime playing too. What a team that was. Anyway, we are where we are...
Barcelona vs Napoli: welcome
Hello! Or should I say 'hola' as I welcome you into the famous Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, the venue to the tastiest Europa League game today.
Italian club Napoli are the visitors and will be hoping to leave with a positive result to take into the second leg at home. The locals here, however, have very different aspirations.
One thing is for sure (he says confidently) this is going to be an excellent game, with two sides coached to play attractive, flowing football. Let's start by getting the build-up flowing...
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