Now that all domestic football has been completed, clubs that are still involved in the continental competition can turn their full focus on to those tournaments and look to progress as far as they can; with some looking to lift the trophy at the end of it.
Of course, the Champions League is one such tournament that will be returning to our screens in August, as there are still a number of rounds that are needed to be completed following the unprecedented break that the football calendar had to take because of external distractions.
FC Barcelona are one side who remain within a chance of lifting the title once again, having done so on no fewer than five occasions, although a tough encounter against SSC Napoli is sitting in between them and a place in the quarter-finals.
With the match being played as their second-leg meeting following a 1-1 draw in Italy, what are Blaugrana’s chances of progressing against the Italians?
FC Barcelona: Champions League could save a poor season
It is no secret that FC Barcelona have had a poor season with Quique Setien at the helm as they have failed to win the La Liga and Copa del Rey titles. Therefore, it is no surprise that rumors have started to emerge suggesting that former Paris Saint-Germain manager Laurent Robert Blanc is being eyed to replace Setien as a last-minute solution to Barca’s management problems.
Nonetheless, the Champions League represents the ideal opportunity for the manager to show the club’s hierarchy that they were right to employ him as the eliminator can work in their favour following Antoine Greizmann’s goal in the second half.
Blaugrana will, however, be without Arturo Vidal for the encounter as he was sent off in the final moments of the game and Sergio Busquets is also suspended, whilst men such as Clement Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti, Ousmane Dembele, Arthur and Griezmann are all struggling with injuries.
SSC Napoli: Need to win to play Champions League football next season
The Italians have had a rather mixed 2019/20 campaign, as they have managed to get their hands on silverware but their league position is surely going to be disappointing. SSC Napoli might have won the Coppa Italia on penalties to Juventus FC in June, however their Serie A performances have fallen well below expectations and Europa League football seems to be what they can expect.
With that being said, the Naples outfit can still qualify for the Champions League, but will need to win this year’s edition of the tournament, therefore FC Barcelona could be up against a side that has nothing to lose when they meet at the Camp Nou in August.
With men like Dries Mertens, Arkadiusz Milik, Lorenzo Insigne, Piotr Zielinski and Kalidou Koulibaly all available, the Spaniard’s could be in for a tough night as SSC Napoli will fancy their chances after a 1-1 scoreline in the first leg.
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The La Liga campaign finished earlier than the Serie A season, therefore many could make the reasonable assumption that FC Barcelona are favourites for the clash as they have had longer to prepare than SSC Napoli for the game. In addition to that, Blaugrana also have the away goal which can prove extremely beneficial to progress.
Indeed, although the Italian’s have almost nothing to lose and everything to gain in this particular meeting, the pressure facing Setien means this game is a must win for the Catalan’s as well, and one they are certainly well placed to go on and do so.
Prediction: Barcelona progress