• Thursday, April 18, 2024
businessday logo


Barcelona vs Napoli: Osimhen leads Partenopei attack at Olympic Stadium


Nigeria international Victor Osimhen is expected to spearhead Napoli’s attack against Barcelona in their Uefa Champions League Round of 16 second-leg clash at the Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium on Tuesday.

The Partenopei held the Blaugrana to a tense 1-1 draw in their first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 meeting last month at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, falling 1-0 down following a Roberto Lewandowski opener before Osimhen found the equaliser 15 minutes later.

Osimhen salvaged a draw for Napoli in his first club appearance since December as they held Barcelona in their Champions League last-16 first leg.

Napoli coach Francesco Calzona has called up a star-studded Napoli squad for the second leg of their Champions League Round of 16 clash with Barcelona, including players like Victor Osimhen, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Giovanni Di Lorenzo and Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa.

Barcelona had a handful of injuries heading into the match, unable to count on Ferran Torres, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri, Alejandro Balde and Gavi. Despite being called up, Jens Cajuste is unlikely to feature for Napoli due to a hamstring strain.

Barcelona coach Xavi speaking at a pre-match press conference on Monday said Napoli have improved under Calzona, revealing what he expects from his side in Tuesday’s encounter.

“I expect a proud Napoli that build up from the back press high with no speculation. They have high individual quality,” Xavi said as quoted by Mundo Deportivo.

“Napoli’s three attacking players are of high level. It’s a big game against a big club, the defending Italian champions.

“There are no favourites, it’s 50-50. The crowd must support us and think the stadium must be like a pressure cooker. We must show our identity and have personality.

“They have improved with a new coach, they are more dynamic. We are dealing with important injuries, but we must compete. We were better than them in Naples and must be better here,” continued the Spanish tactician.”

Xavi admitted that tomorrow’s game is the most important of the season for the La Liga giants.

“It is, but we are ready, with confidence. We haven’t played in the quarter-finals for four years. We face a team that is not in the best moment but won the title last season. We need a packed stadium.

“We already played good games against big clubs like Real Madrid even if we lost in La Liga, but also Atletico and Napoli. We must perform similarly but be more effective inside the boxes.”

Osimhen’s equaliser marked his ninth Champions League goal, the joint-most by a Nigerian player in the history of UEFA’s top club tournament level with Obafemi Martins.

Napoli head into the match with strong confidence in Osimhen to deliver a top-class performance in Catalan.

Barcelona will be hoping to utilise their home advantage, considering the reigning Spanish champions are unbeaten in their five meetings with Napoli in all competitions.