Callejon misses the big chance for victory, but in the return to Camp Nou the blaugrana will be without Busquets and Vidal (sent off in the final)
The qualification discussion remains open. The draw allows Napoli to play it all in the return match. A goal in time and some good opportunity wasted by the collective of Rino Gattuso who took the lead with a right-footed shot by Mertens, who thus reaches 121 goals and hooks Marek Hamisk in first place in the ranking of the blue scorers of all time. Griezmann’s draw comes just before the quarter of an hour of the second half, while Leo Messi enters the game only in the twenty end finals. The return will take place on March 18 in Barcelona.
No news regarding Napoli. Rino Gattuso confirms the training that, in this period, is offering him more guarantees. So, in midfield there is the confirmation of Fabian Ruiz on the right, Demme in the center and Zileinski on the left. For Allan there is only the bench. Similar speech for Milik: he is also among the reserves, while at the center of the attack is Dries Mertens, with Callejon and Insigne on the outside. There is some news, however, in the eleven of Barcelona. Setien leaves Fati out for Arturo Vidal, while in defense there is Umtiti and not Lenget.
Ready away and Barcelona takes possession of the ball, keeping Napoli in their own half. The maneuver starts from behind, from Piqué, and is expanding on the outside. On the right, there is Vidal, followed by Mario Rui, while on the left Junior Firpo keeps Di Lorenzo busy. Leo Messi settles in the middle of the attack, followed by Maksimovic and Manolas on sight. For Pulce, the San Paolo choirs praising Diego Maradona. Napoli is collected in 30 meters and tries to go away in restart and when it succeeds, Mertens is offside. The first conclusion towards the goal mirror is by Messi, but the ball ends up high.
The Catalans command the game, but Gattuso has closed all the lines of passage and for the Spaniards it is difficult to find the opportunity to conclude. The Neapolitan markings work and, therefore, keep opponents away from the door of Ospina. Napoli, however, is lurking, ready to take advantage of the first mistake to make themselves dangerous. So, in half an hour, Zielinski manages to escape Umtiti and crosses long for Mertens. The Belgian striker stops the ball and with his usual right-hand shot detonates the San Paolo. A very nice goal, which earned him the top spot in the club’s all-time scorer ranking although I will have to share it with Marek Hamsik until the next goal. Both are now at 121.
Return to Barcelona
The goal immediately does not dissuade the Catalans, who continue in their dribble, sometimes too affected, but effective to keep Napoli holed up in their own half. The first half ends without other emotions. The recovery begins with the return of Barcelona. Setien’s men seem more determined and try to raise the pace of the game. Busquets deserves a yellow card for a bad luck on Mertens that will force him to leave after a few minutes. On San Paolo the frost falls at 12 ‘. Semedo escapes Mario Rui and crosses for Griezmann. The right touch of the French striker leaves no escape for Ospina. The fans of Barça who are staying in the guest sector are delighted. But it is Napoli who goes back, without any fear. At 16 ‘tries Insigne who, after creating a panic between the opposing defenders, ends on Ter Stegen. Even more sensational the error of Callejon two minutes later. Milik puts him only in front of the goalkeeper, but the conclusion is rejected by Ter Stegen himself.
In the last quarter of an hour there is the awakening of Leo Messi. The Argentine champion decides to push and Barcelona becomes dangerous on some occasions. Just at 30 ‘, the Barcelona striker collides with Ospina, the two remain on the ground and it is necessary the intervention of the sanitary to put them back on their feet. The final minutes do not reserve further emotions, except for the expulsion of Vidal, at 43 ‘, for protests, and the injury in the recovery minutes of Piqué. Barça al Camp Nou will also be without Busquets, admonished: he was wary.
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