Sunday, July 12, 2020

Prediction: Napoli vs Barcelona

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 8/13

Bookmaker: Bet365

Two sides who will turn their attention back to Champions League duties in midweek, Napoli will welcome Barcelona to the Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday night.

Napoli

Starting with the hosts, while they may not have been at their best over the weekend, Napoli did manage to come from behind away at Brescia and have continued on quite the resurge. Bouncing back in some style from their shock 3-2 defeat against Leece earlier in the month, the Blues have really started to find their feet under new boss Gennaro Gattuso. Finding a route back into the Serie A top-six, the former AC Milan Head Coach has seen his side win their last three matches on the bounce, including a 1-0 win away at Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia. With the mood around the Stadio San Paolo on the rise and also winning six of their last seven matches across all competitions, one man to potentially keep an eye out for on Tuesday night could be leading marksman, Arkadiusz Milik. Bagging a hat-trick in his last Champions League appearance, the Polish striker is one of just two players at the Stadio San Paolo to reach double digits this season.

Team News

Napoli will be unable to call upon captain and defensive talisman Kalidou Koulibaly on Tuesday with the 28-year-old suffering from a hamstring injury.

Barcelona

As for the visitors, putting in a thumping performance in their 5-0 win over Eibar on Saturday, Barcelona have found a route back to the top of the La Liga table and find themselves in an almost identical position to Tuesday’s hosts. While the Spanish giants may have shown some signs of a struggle after bringing in now boss Quique Setién, they have landed three wins on the bounce since their shock Copa del Rey defeat at Atletico Bilbao earlier in the month. Despite still showing some inconsistencies at the back, Barca did end their Champions League group stage with back-to-back victories against Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan and they are still seen to be one of their leading contenders to lift their first European crown since 2015. Unsurprisingly, if the reigning La Liga champions are to gain an early advantage on foreign soil in midweek, there is no doubt that Setién will be calling on attacking talisman Lionel Messi to lead their charge. Bagging four goals against Eibar over the weekend, the six-time Ballon d’Or winner has already recorded 23 goals this season.

Team News

After settling for a place on the bench over the weekend, Dutch midfielder Frenkie de Jong is set to replace Ivan Rakitic at the heart of Barcelona’s midfield.

Elsewhere, while Junior Firpo will deputise for the injured Jordi Alba, the Spanish giants will be without Sergi Roberto.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Napoli have won six of their last seven matches across all competitions, including their last three appearances on the bounce.
  • Barcelona are also in the midst of their own three-match winning run, including a 5-0 victory against Eibar over the weekend.
  • Four of Barcelona’s last five Champions League matches have seen both teams score and over 2.5 goals at full-time.
  • Seven of the 10 combined matches between Barcelona and Napoli in February have seen over 2.5 goals.
  • Lionel Messi has recorded 23 goals across all competitions this season.

Conclusion

While both Napoli and Barcelona might have shown some inconsistencies since opening the New Year, both sides do appear to be finding their feet under new bosses. With both sides in the midst of their own three-match winning runs and also possessing a string of attacking options, we’re backing a lively encounter at the Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday night.

Verdict: Both teams to score

Best Odds: 8/13

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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