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Napoli v Barcelona Live Commentary, 25/02/2020

1 - 1
D. Mertens (30)
A. Griezmann (57)
Stadio Diego Armando Maradona


Thanks for joining our commentary this evening. Until next time, goodbye.
Napoli are next in action against in Serie A on Saturday against Torino on home soil, while Barcelona have their biggest match of the season when they play Real Madrid in El Clasico at the Bernabeu.
It's all square after the first leg of the Champions League round-of-16 clash between Napoli and Barcelona. The Italian outfit took the lead in the first half through a stunner from Dries Mertens. However, Barca rallied in the second half as Antoine Griezmann found the net from close range. The Catalan club ended the match with 10 men when Arturo Vidal was dismissed, while both teams have injury concerns as Mertens and Gerard Pique limped off. The return contest should be a thriller at Camp Nou.
90' + 5' Umtiti is fouled in the box by Manolas from the resulting corner and the referee awards a free-kick to the visitors.
90' + 5' Rui wins a corner off the body of Semedo. There might be one last chance for Napoli to win the game.
C. Lenglet
90' + 3' Lenglet is on for Pique, who hobbles off the pitch. It's not a good sign for the Catalan club ahead of El Clasico at the weekend.
90' + 1' Pique has a nasty fall on his ankle as he clears the danger from the Barcelona box. He's looking in some trouble as he receives treatment.
90' There will be five minutes of added time.
89' OFF! Vidal receives two yellow cards in the space of a second. One for the challenge on Rui and the other for the aforementioned headbutt on the defender. He's not happy, but he has to go. He receives quite a send from the home supporters.
Mário Rui
Yellow Card
89' Rui is booked for his part in the melee with Vidal after the late challenge.
A. Vidal
Yellow Card
89' Vidal and Rui have a melee at the end of the game. The Barcelona man slides in hard on the Napoli left-back and goes into the book for the challenge, but the two go nose-to-nose. Vidal makes a headbutt notion. More could be coming...
Ansu Fati
A. Griezmann
87' Fati replaces Griezmann for the closing stages of the game.
86' OVER! Messi wins the ball in the final third and he cuts the ball back for Arthur to strike from the 25 yards, only for the Brazilian to hammer his effort well over the bar.
84' Zielinski nods the ball into the path of Insigne, but he can only send his strike from 20 yards over the bar.
A. Griezmann
Yellow Card
83' Griezmann brings down Insigne on the charge and goes into the book.
82' Messi makes a driving run down the right flank, but once again Rui and Maksimovic are there to block his progress on the edge of the box.
81' Zielinski probes down the right flank and he goes for the low cross into the middle, but his delivery is repelled by Busquets.
D. Demme
80' Demme makes way for Allan in the middle of the park.
78' Messi tries to work his way through the Napoli defence down the right inside channel, but he just loses the ball out for a goal-kick.
76' OVER! Messi swings the corner into dangerous area and Umtiti rises to head at goal ahead of Ospina, but he can only glance it over from six yards. The Frenchman just mistimes his jump to miscue his effort.
76' Barcelona are beginning to find their passing rhythm to threaten the Napoli goal. They win a corner on the right flank as Maksimovic diverts a Messi effort behind.
M. Politano
José Callejón
74' Callejon is withdrawn for Politano in the final third.
72' The game is still there for both teams to win, but there needs to be an improvement in the quality in the final third.
70' Messi twists and turns in the final third, but he cannot find the space. Semedo collects on the right flank, only to send his cross behind for a goal-kick.
68' Napoli are using a high-press strategy to put the Barca backline and Ter Stegen under duress. It might leave them open at the back though.
L. Messi
Yellow Card
66' Messi is booked for his lunge, although there was nothing malicious about his challenge.
66' Messi and Ospina remain down on the deck after the incident. The Napoli keeper has come off worse, holding his right shoulder.
65' CLOSE! Messi opens up the Napoli defence with a neat turn on the edge of the box. He feeds Vidal on the right, who sends a teasing cross into the middle. Ospina bravely puts his body on the line to push the ball away from danger and gets clattered by Messi on the slide in the process.
63' MISS! Fabian and Milik open the Barcelona defence to put Callejon through on goal. He opens up space to strike, but Ter Stegen is off his line in a rush and makes a fine stop with his body to deny the forward. That was a huge opening for the home team.
L. Insigne
Yellow Card
61' Insigne is booked for dissent.
61' SAVE! Insigne weaves his way between Semedo and Pique in the right inside channel and then tries to catch out Ter Stegen with a low strike that is well saved by the Barca keeper at his near post.
59' Barcelona finally discover their cutting edge in the final third and just like that they have the vital away goal. It may force Napoli out of their defensive shape.
58' Griezmann has scored his first away Champions League goal since February 2017 for Atletico Madrid against Bayer Leverkusen; each of his nine goals in the competition between that strike in 2017 and today had been scored at home.
Nélson Semedo
57' Semedo makes a good run down the right flank and he sends a low cross into the middle for Griezmann to score.
A. Griezmann
57' GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!! GRIEZMANN EQUALISES!!!! 1-1!! Barcelona are back in the game as Griezmann converts from close range. Busquets releases the run of Semedo down the right inside channel and he times his run to perfection. The Portuguese sends a low cross into the middle for the unmarked Griezmann, who hammers a right-footed effort past Ospina.
I. Rakitić
56' Arthur replaces Rakitic in the Barcelona midfield.
55' Messi collects in the Napoli half, but as soon as he tries to turn there are three players around him to close the space.
A. Milik
D. Mertens
54' Mertens has to make way after Busquets challenge. Milik replaces the forward.
52' Mertens is back on the pitch, but he's not moving smoothly out there.
51' Mertens is helped off the pitch by the Napoli physio. Gattuso will have his fingers crossed that the Belgian can continue.
50' Away from home in the Champions League knockout stages, Barcelona have only scored two goals in their last 17 halves of football.
Sergio Busquets
Yellow Card
49' Busquets catches Mertens late with a high boot and goes into the book.
48' Barca are trying to pull Napoli out of their shape at the back, but once again the sky blue shirts are holding firm in their shape.
46' Barcelona have only won one of their previous seven Champions League away games when conceding the opening goal (D4 L2) - 2-1 v Borussia Monchengladbach in September 2016.
46' We're back underway at the Stadio San Paolo.
Barcelona have been pedestrian in the final third and second to every 50/50 in the contest thus far. Quique Setien faces an important team-talk at the interval to get his side going in the second half otherwise they're heading into the return leg with a deficit to overturn.
Napoli take a 1-0 lead in the break in their Champions League round-of-16 clash against Barcelona at the Stadio San Paolo. Gennaro Gattuso could not have wished for a better 45 minutes. Napoli have been outstanding at the back, limiting Barca's attacking threat. Lionel Messi has only had one attempt that he blasted over the bar. At the other end, the home side have been clinical, taking the lead through a stunner from Dries Mertens. Kostas Manolas could have notched a second, but it was still a great half for the hosts.
45' There will be one minute of added time.
44' Vidal collects on the right flank from Rakitic and lifts a cross into the box. It's an awkward one under Ospina's bar, but the keeper holds his nerve to make the claim.
42' CHANCE! Rui clips a cross to the right inside channel for Callejon and he guides the ball towards the near post. Manolas connects first time with a low strike that he places inches past the right post.
41' Ter Stegen does well under pressure play the ball away from Mertens at the back. Rui then puts Busquets under duress and he wins a free-kick for the home side.
39' Ospina takes a gamble at the back offloading towards Demme under pressure from Messi, but the midfielder scoops it away from danger.
37' Busquets tries to lift a ball over the top for the run of Semedo, but the ball skips off the pitch and out for a goal-kick. It has been that sort of evening so far for the visitors.
36' Barca pass the ball from left to right to look to open up the Napoli defence, but there's no space for them to exploit in and around the box.
34' Messi tries to work a cross into box from the right flank, but it deflects off Mario Rui and safely into the hands of Ospina.
33' Gattuso will be thrilled with the standard of his side's performance. They've quelled the threat of the visitors and have the lead. Barca have to respond positively here.
31' Mertens is now Napoli's joint-top all-time scorer (121), along with Marek Hamsik.
P. Zieliński
30' Zielinski wins possession from Firpo and he raids forward before teeing up Mertens to score.
D. Mertens
30' GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!! MERTENS SCORES A STUNNER!!!!!! 1-0 NAPOLI!!!! The home side take the lead through an incisive break and super finish from Mertens. Zielinski robs Firpo of possession and charges forward into the right inside channel. He cuts a low ball back towards the edge of the box for the Belgian. Mertens takes one touch before curling his effort away from Ter Stegen into the top-right corner.
27' Space opens up for Messi on the charge and he has support in the final third. However, Manolas cuts out his pass to Griezmann, who was in acres of space in the left inside channel.
25' Demme gets caught late by Busquets, but the home side are awarded a foul only in their own half. It might be Busquets last warning before a card is produced.
24' Messi collects on the edge of the box and he tries to slide an offload towards De Jong on the charge, but Manolas makes the interception.
22' Messi drifts out to the right flank and angles a cross into the box. Vidal tries to nod it towards Griezmann, but the flick evades the Frenchman.
20' Barcelona are trying to work the ball around the Napoli half to look for openings in their defensive wall. It has been a disciplined effort from the home side thus far.
18' Busquets brings down Insigne on the counter, but the referee gives the decision in the favour of the visitors. The Napoli winger is not happy with the official.
16' Callejon latches on to an offload from Fabian on the right flank and he fires a low ball looking for Zielinski, but it deflects off Firpo and into the hands of Ter Stegen.
14' Fabian tries to work the ball through to Mertens in the left inside channel, but Pique gets across on the slide to clear it away from danger.
12' Napoli are playing out from the back in tight quarters around the edge of their own box. It's a dangerous tactic to employ against Messi and company.
10' Mertens is released into space down the left flank and he goes for a cross into the box that just evades Callejon, although the forward was offside anyway.
9' OVER! Messi weaves his way to the edge of the box and combines with De Jong. However, under pressure, the Argentine can only lift his left-footed strike over the bar.
7' Callejon battles Firpo down the left flank and he wins the ball, only to hear the whistle for a foul against the Barcelona left-back.
5' The visitors are enjoying an early spell of possession in the Napoli half, with the home side content to sit in their shape.
3' Barca flood forward in numbers in their first attack of the game, but the home side hold firm at the back. Pique tries an ambitious pass forward that sails into the hands of Ospina.
1' We're underway at the Stadio San Paolo.
Barcelona’s last away win against Italian opposition in the Champions League knockout stages came in April 2006, when they beat AC Milan 1-0, courtesy of a Ludovic Giuly goal. Current Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso played in that game for AC Milan. Since then, Barcelona have failed to win any of their five such away trips to Italy (D1 L4) and have failed to score in the last four.
Barca have also made two changes to their side from their win over Eibar. Umtiti replaces Lenglet at the back, with the latter dropping to the bench to accomodate his compatriot. De Jong comes back into the starting line-up in place of Arthur.
Gattuso has made two changes to his side that beat Brescia last time out. Callejon comes into the team in the final third to replace Politano, who drops to the bench. Zielinski also returns to the fold in the middle of the park, replacing Elmas.
BARCELONA SUBS: Arthur, Neto, Clement Lenglet, Riqui Puig, Ansu Fati, Ronald Araujo, Sergio Akieme.
BARCELONA (4-3-1-2): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Nelson Semedo, Gerard Pique, Samuel Umtiti, Junior Firpo; Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong; Arturo Vidal; Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann.
NAPOLI SUBS: Alex Meret, Allan, Eljif Elmas, Sebastiano Luperto, Matteo Politano, Elseid Hysaj, Arkadiusz Milik.
NAPOLI (4-3-3): David Ospina; Giovanni De Lorenzo, Kostas Manolas, Nikola Maksimovic, Mario Rui; Fabian Ruiz, Diego Demme, Piot Zielinski; Jose Callejon, Dries Mertens, Lorenzo Insigne.
Barcelona reclaimed their place at the top of LaLiga at the weekend courtesy of a 5-0 thrashing of Eibar. Since suffering a defeat at the hands of Athletic Bilbao, Barca have reeled off three-straight wins to find their form under Quique Setien. The Catalan club were strong in the group stage, winning four and drawing two of their matches. However, a trip to face the Stadio San Paolo is not straight forward as Napoli proved by beating the holders earlier in the campaign.
Napoli were impressive during the group stage, remaining unbeaten in their six matches, which included a 2-0 triumph over Liverpool on home soil. Gennaro Gattuso's men enter tonight's contest in good form, winning their last three matches on the bounce. They're off the pace for the top four in Serie A, but they have beaten Cagliari and Brescia to provide momentum to take on Barca and spring an upset on the Spanish outfit.
Good evening and welcome to the first leg of the Champions League round-of-16 clash between Napoli and Barcelona at the Stadio San Paolo.