The UEFA Europa League is coming to Camp Nou for the first time in their history when FC Barcelona welcomes Napoli for the knockout round playoff clash.
After 191 games in the Champions League in the last 18 seasons, FC Barcelona is back in this competition for the first time since it was rebranded. The last time the Catalans contested what was known then as the UEFA Cup was 2003-04 when they were eliminated in the round of 16 by Celtic.
The Catalan giants dropped into this competition after finishing third in their Champions League group, while Napoli finished second in their Europa League section behind Spartak Moscow.
Barcelona finished third in Group E behind Bayern Munich and Benfica, losing three of their six games in the process.
Napoli booked their spot in the knockout round of this season’s competition by finishing second in Group C, picking up 10 points from their six matches against Spartak Moscow, Leicester City and Legia Warsaw.
Barcelona does not have much experience in the Europa League, But Napoli has been in the competition’s knockout round for the ninth time, a competition record alongside Ajax and Olympiacos. So, the Italian club will look to test the young Barca side with their experience in UEL.
Barcelona comes to this match after getting a late draw against Espanyol in the Barcelona Derby. They will be without the services of their key defender Ronald Araujo, who was injured against Espanyol.
They will also be without the services of Samuel Umtiti, Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto and Alejandro Balde through injury.
Xavi might start Aubemeyang as they are facing an experienced side like Napoli.
Matteo Politano and Hirving Lozano are both injured for the Italian team. Manchester United loanee Axel Tuanzebe has not been included in the Europa League squad.
Lorenzo Insigne and Victor Osimhen will be the main attacking threat for the home team. Eljif Elmas will replace the injured Politano in the first XI.
Barcelona vs Napoli predicted line-ups
Barcelona’s predicted line-up (4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Sergino Dest, Eric Garcia, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba; Pedri, Sergio Busquets, Nico Gonzalez; Ousmane Dembele, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Abde Ezzalzouli.
Napoli’s predicted line-up (4-2-3-1): Alex Meret; Giovanni Di Lorenzo, Amir Rrahmani, Kalidou Koulibaly, Mario Rui; Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, Fabian Ruiz; Elif Elmas, Piotr Zielinski, Lorenzo Insigne; Victor Osimhen.
Barcelona 3-1 Napoli | UEFA Champions League 2020-21
Napoli 1-1 Barcelona | UEFA Champions League 2020-21
Napoli 0-4 Barcelona | Club Friendly 2019
Barcelona 2-1 Napoli | Club Friendly 2019
Barcelona 0-1 Napoli | Club Friendly 2014
Venue: Camp Nou, Barcelona
Date and time: Thursday, February 16, 2022, at 6:45 PM CET
Referee: Istvan Kovacs