Barcelona – Napoli: Barça Clinically Power Through To The Quarter-Finals (3-1)

The score line was all Barça needed, but the performance that came along with it left much to be desired. While Napoli’s own spells of possession and control of the ball at times put Setién’s side, who are normally renowned for such, to shame, theirs was just as ineffective through large stretches of the encounter. All amounting to an affair decided by the difference in quality, with the favorites knowing how best to convert their opportunities.
Tactical analysis and match report by Peter Munnelly.

Quique Setién’s Barcelona have had a little under three weeks to not only prepare for this game, but also recover from the reality of their loss in the title race to perennial rivals Real Madrid. The season was capped off with a 5-0 win away at Deportivo Alavés, yet the jury's still out on the head coach.

Sergio Busquets’ and Arturo Vidal’s unavailability were the big absentees, while there were returns for both Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann. Setién shoehorned the front three into the center in an unorthodox 4-3-3 setup, crossed with a 4-4-2 diamond.

An impressive first leg performance as well as some steady form in the league would have put Gennaro Gattuso’s team in good spirits for this challenge. 

For Napoli’s first ever competitive game at the Camp Nou, Gattuso made only one change from the side that beat Lazio 3-1 on the final day: Diego Demme returned to holding midfield ahead of Stanislav Lobotka. The rest of the manager’s 4-3-3 system kept their place, including the familiar front three of Lorenzo Insigne, Dries . . .

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Peter (20), lives just outside of London. He’s been writing about tactics and such for over a year now, contributing to a couple of sites during that time. His main club is Arsenal but he’s also followed Real Betis quite heavily since Quique Setién took over last year. This form of writing has become a great passion of his and, although he’s unsure of what his end aim is, he’s enjoying being given new opportunities to continue doing so. [ View all posts ]

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