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Barcelona vs Napoli in the Europa League on Feb 17. 2022 - Odds & Prediction

Barcelona vs Napoli in the Europa League on Feb 17. 2022 - Odds & Prediction

The draw for the play-off round of the Europa League knockout stages threw up some mouth-watering clashes, but no more so than Barcelona versus Napoli, with the first leg taking place at the Nou Camp on Thursday night.

Barca had a terrible start to the season, both domestically and in Europe, culminating in their exit from the Champions League, as well as a lowly position in La Liga.

But Xavi’s side are improving quickly, and this looks like an even clash against a Napoli side who suffered a bit of a dip towards the end of 2021.

We should have a cracker on our hands, so let’s take a look at the tale of the tape before getting stuck into some expert football betting tips.

  • Kindly note that all information in this preview, including whether or not the event will take place, is subject to change due to Covid-19.
MarketPrediction
Match Odds and Both teams to ScoreBarcelona
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Barcelona Win And Both Teams To Score

Napoli are in good knick when it comes to their away form in Serie A, but their record on their travels in the Europa League is rather scratchy.

Luciano Spalletti’s side won only one of their three away games during the group stages, in which they also lost 2-1 at Spartak Moscow. They also required a late comeback to recover from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Premier League side Leicester. That said, they did score seven times in those three away games.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have had plenty of goals in their games in recent weeks, with 22 in their last six outings, with both teams scoring in five of those games.

And there are visible signs that they are improving as an attacking force. Their 4-2 hammering of Atletico Madrid in early-February suggests they’re making small steps towards being back to their best, and with Napoli not travelling brilliantly, we think they can take advantage.

Barcelona look the value in this one, but with their defence not quite where it needs to be, we reckon Napoli will register. Our selection here is Barcelona to win and for both teams to score, with the most popular betting sites such as Sportnation where it's priced at around 11/4.

Barcelona Form, squad news, opinion

Barcelona’s season was on the brink of disaster after they crashed out of the Champions League, all while their La Liga form saw them well adrift of the top four.

But the arrival of club legend Xavi has seen a big improvement on the pitch, while their investments during the January transfer window will certainly help with fan morale off the field.

At the time of writing, the Blaugrana are now just a point off the Champions League places in the league and are starting to score a lot more goals than in the early reaches of the season.

They’re still not the finished article, with defensive reinforcements required to replace the ageing Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba, but the arrival of Dani Alves at right-back has breathed a new lease of life into the club and the Brazilian will be desperare to return to the European big-time next season.

Utility man Sergio Roberto remains out with a hamstring injury, while rising star Ansu Fati continues to sit out with a similar problem that has plagued his progress for the last 12 months.

Napoli Form, squad news, opinion

It’s difficult to gauge Napoli’s eagerness to win this competition, with their priority surely being a first Scudetto in more than a decade.

Their results in the Europa League suggest that could be the case too. They should really have topped a group featuring Leicester, Spartak and Legia, but the fact they needed a final-day win over the Foxes tells you all you need to know about their motivation in this competition.

The good news for Napoli is that their domestic form has improved significantly since the turn of the year, with their only defeat in 2022 coming in an extra-time Coppa Italia loss to Fiorentina.

They should also be in battle-ready condition after coming through a huge game against Inter Milan at the weekend with a point, but we think a home Barca crowd will get the hosts over the line in the first leg.

The only notable absentee from the Napoli side is Mexican winger Hirving Lozano, who’s out for a few more weeks with a shoulder injury.

History

These two have faced each other four times, but only two of their matches were in major European competition.

Both games took place in the Champions League in 2020, with Barca winning 3-1 at the Nou Camp and drawing 1-1 in Naples.

About the Venue

The Nou Camp is one of Europe’s most highly lauded stadiums and has seen some famous European nights over the years.

The ground’s capacity is tantalisingly close to 100,000 and has been hosting Barcelona games since the late 1950s.

Conclusion

It’s a shame these two are meeting in the Europa League and not in the deep end of the Champions League, but it doesn’t mean we won’t be served with a classic.

Barcelona could really do with a lead to take to Italy with them and we think they will prove too strong on home soil for a Napoli side that haven’t travelled well in European competition this season.

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