Naples vs Barcelona: Extremely necessary duel in a volcanic stadium | Soccer | Sports

Barcelona embraces the Champions League like a castaway, the competition that has marked the Barça’s decline since it became champion in Berlin, winner of the final against Juventus in 2015. The string of defeats in the opposite field has been so painful since then such as its elimination in the group stage of the last two editions and later in the Europa League, marked by the invasion of Eintracht. Now, at the third time, they have reached the round of 16 and on the contrary have been left behind in the League – eight points behind Madrid -, eliminated from the Copa del Rey and defeated in the Super Cup.

The match against Naples that begins at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium (9:00 p.m., Movistar) therefore acquires decisive importance from a sporting and also economic point of view after knowing the salary limit —66 million less than last summer— facilitated by the league. With the levers exhausted, Barça will surely have no choice but to transfer players, a possibility that feels so likely that some have already been named, such as De Jong. The Dutchman’s irritation, however, is with the press, just as it happened with Xavi, who announced his goodbye for June 30.

The discourse of the coach and the players goes in the opposite direction to that expressed by the critics, who mostly agree that the Barça team does not play well, undefeated on foreign territory in the League and on the contrary defeated in their stadium by the Madrid, Girona and Villarreal. The instability is even worse in Naples, although the need is different, especially due to the club ownership system governed by De Laurentiis. Up to four coaches have passed through Naples since they won the League with Spalletti. Neither Rudi García nor Mazzari have held out and the president has entrusted himself to Calzona.

The coach, who was an assistant to both Sarri and Spalletti and is currently the coach of Slovakia, was presented precisely on the eve of the match against Barcelona. As with Barça, Naples has not stabilized since it won the scudetto in May, third in its history after the two won in Maradona’s time (1987 and 1990). They are currently ninth in their championship, they also lost the Super Cup and were eliminated from the Cup by Frosinone. The Neapolitan fans trust in the change of coach and the return of Osimhen to defeat Barcelona.

The Blaugrana also recover João Félix and Sergi Roberto. The team will need the best individual versions to face a rival that has “three very good forwards”, according to Xavi’s diagnosis. “Defensive vigilance and avoiding counterattacks will be very important,” he added, aware that it is not known how Naples will perform with a single training session with Calzona. “The setting is ideal to demonstrate what we know,” concluded Xavi. Lamine Yamal’s good form and Lewandowski’s goals encourage Barça.

The challenge is to compete better and increase the level of play in an environment that is not particularly serene and focused if De Jong’s intervention is taken into account. The Dutchman’s anger joins the demonstrations of — and the letter from Víctor Font, candidate for the 2021 elections, in which he requests the refoundation of Barça.

Reaching the quarterfinals is a priority for a club that somehow shares a volcanic and self-destructive character with Naples.

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