A Closer Look At Barca’s Opponents Napoli

FC Barcelona will face Napoli in the Europa League play-offs in February 2022. This of course after being knocked out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich. The last time the two sides met was under the Quique Setien era in the UEFA Champions League. Barca drew in Italy and won in the return leg at the Camp Nou. 

Since taking over from Gennarro Gattuso in May 2021, Luciano Spalletti has turned Napoli into one of Serie A’s most formidable units. Napoli sit in fourth in the Serie A table with 36 points, four behind league leaders Inter Milan. Napoli have scored 68 goals in 30 games so far this season in all competitions, averaging over two per game.

They have created 1.9 chances and 15.8 shots per game, and completed almost 100 more short passes than third-place Sassuolo in just 7 matches.

STYLE OF PLAY 

Building from the back, Luciano Spalletti has employed very good attacking tactics for Napoli this season. Moving from the ‘traditional’ Italian football. The manager employs a 4-3-3 system with positional play and even their defensive solidity. They play with two holding midfielders, with one moving forward in attack.

The team likes to attack down the wings, good at finishing chances, and defending set pieces. They press high, controlling the game in the opposition’s half and attacking from the left. Surprisingly, they let the opposition play aggressively against them at times. In addition, they have a consistent starting eleven, without much rotation. 

Dries Mertens plays as a ‘nine’, with Lorenzo Insigne and Victor Osimhen on the sides with all three major goal threats for the opposition. Fabian Ruiz is responsible for the tempo and control in the middle of the park, alongside Piotr Zielinski and Andre Anguissa in a very dynamic partnership. The players are experienced and physically dominant in nature. 

KEY PLAYERS

Gli Azzurri have a lot of key players in the team. Victor Osimhen, Fabian Ruiz, Piotr Zieliński, and Dries Mertens all have got five goals each this season while Lorenzo Insigne has four. The squad has a lot of goal scorers who can be the point men for Spalletti. Amir Rrahmani and  Kalidou Koulibaly have been very key at the back for Napoli. 

The first leg of Barcelona vs Napoli will kick off at 18:45pm CET. Thus the attendance at the Camp Nou will be less than usual since the match will be played during working hours. The second leg in Naples will kickoff at 21:00pm CET.

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