Leo Messi Masterpiece Tear Tenacious Napoli Down

Napoli faced Barcelona openly at the Camp Nou on Saturday night in the second leg of their Round of 16 Champions League bout but ended crushed by the Blaugrana. Barcelona put three past them in the first half before Lorenzo Insigne reduced the gap from the penalty spot.

The Partenopei thus bid farewell to the Champions League as they were outclassed by a Leo Messi magic after Clement Lenglet’s header put the home side ahead. Luis Suarez scored the third for Quique Setién side, before Insigne’s delusory goal just before half time.

Gennaro Gattuso’s boys tried to attack in the second half but were comfortably controlled by Barcelona, who confirmed their positive European trend at the Camp Nou – where they have not lost since 2013. The Blaugrana ultimately proved too much for the Partenopei despite their courageous approach and even while missing four key players like Samuel Umtiti, Sergio Busquets, Arturo Vidal, and Ousman Dembele.

Barcelona will thus continue their European journey facing Bayern Munich in the Quarter Finals on August 14 – their only chance to redeem a season which saw them ending five points behind Real Madrid in La Liga

Gattuso’s boy’s approach to the game was the right one. Napoli set the match tempo and came to shoot 3 times in the initial 10 minutes. Still, Barcelona took the lead as soon as they showed their faces around David Ospina: Clément Lenglet’s header from a corner kick was perfect and left no chance to Napoli’s Colombian goalkeeper.

Napoli protested as both Lenglet and Gerard Piqué seemed to push their markers on the occasion, but referee Cuneyt Cakir deemed the goal valid after checking the VAR.

Then, in the 22nd minute, Lionel Messi reminded everybody why he is the best in the world. La Pulga grabbed the ball on the right flank, penetrated into Napoli’s box getting rid of two opponents in the process, slid, maintained the ball, stood up, and powered a vicious left-foot snapshot that beat Ospina for the second time. Absolutely stunning. 

Messi saw his second goal disallowed in the 29th minute as the VAR saw him controlling the ball with a hand before putting it past Ospina for the third time. Barcelona’s third goal, however, came just before the half time mark as Luis Suarez converted a penalty awarded for a clumsy Kalidou Koulibaly tackle on Barcelona’s number 10.

The demise of Napoli’s Senegalese defender was the perfect image of the Partenopei‘s night as Koulibaly was totally outclassed by Messi in what was supposed to be a confrontation between some of the best in the world in their role.

Napoli, however, got a chance to reduce the gap as Ivan Rakitic pushed Dries Mertens down in the box and caused another penalty during the first half added time. Lorenzo Insigne buried the spot to bring the score at 1-3.

Gattuso made an early change as he sent in Stanislav Lobotka for Mario Demme right after the restart in an attempt to change the match pace but the Azzurri didn’t manage to create any real chance for most of the second period.

The only danger for Messi and co came in the 80th minute when a perfect cross by Mario Rui found substitute Arkadiusz Milik in the box for the Pole to convert with a header – but Milik was caught in offside.

Napoli closed their season with their heads held high but knowing that they still have much to do before they can be a danger to clubs like Barcelona. The Partenopei will miss the Champions League next season so they won’t potentially face Quique Setién’s side for at least two years. Next time they will hopefully be more prepared.   



August 8, 2020 – Champions League 2019-20 Round of 16
BARCELONA-NAPOLI 3-1 (Barcelona advance on aggregate 4-2)

SCORERS: 10′ Lenglet (B), 23′ Messi (B), 45’+1 Suarez (B, pen.), 45’+5 Insigne (N, pen.)

BARCELONA (4-3-3): Ter Stegen; Semedo, Piqué, Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Sergi Roberto, Rakitic, F. De Jong; Messi, Suarez (91′ Junior Firpo), Griezmann (84′ Monchu) (Neto, Inaki Pena, Puig, Ansu Fati, Ronald Araujo, Mingueza, De la Fuente, Reis, Orellana) Coach: Setién
NAPOLI (4-3-3): Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Manolas, Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Fabian Ruiz (78′ Elmas), Demme (46′ Lobotka), Zielinski (69′ Lozano); Callejon (69′ Politano), Mertens, Insigne (78′ Milik) (Meret, Karnezis, Allan, Llorente, Luperto, Maksimovic, Hysaj) Coach: Gattuso

REFEREE: Cakir (Turkey)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Zielinski, Suarez; Extra Time: First Half 5′, Second Half 5′