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Camp Nou will be looking to witness another great debut night for Barça in this season's Europa League on Thursday. The competition begins with a tough test for Xavi Hernández and the squad as Barça welcome Napoli (6.45 pm CET), one of the teams of the season in Serie A.
FC Barcelona are back playing in European club football's second competition after an 18-year absence. The winner of this play-off round will go through to the last 16 where the already-classified group phase winners are waiting.
Hopefully Camp Nou will be filled to the rafters to drive on a team that will be fighting for one of the few missing trophies in the FC Barcelona Museum cabinet.
Napoli are coming into the match in good form. Third in Serie A, and only two points behind the leaders, the Neapolitans arrive after a solid draw at home (1-1) against one of the favourites for the title, Inter Milan.
This Napoli team build from the back and will try to make use of midfielder Fabián Ruiz's passing skills to launch quick counter attacks to their forwards, with Insigne, Osimhen and Hirving Lozano real threats when they have space to run into.
Coach: Luciano Spalletti. After coaching major Serie A teams like Inter Milan, Roma, and Sampdoria, the coach from Florence brought his experience to the capital of southern Italy in July. In just a few months, the veteran Italian coach managed to establish defensive solidity and make strides in the league, to the extent that they are fighting for the 'Scudetto' against the two Milan clubs.
Goalscorer: Victor Osimhen. The Nigerian forward arrived in Italy as Napoli's most expensive signing ever (50 million euro) and the outlay is being justified with goals to date. Despite being out with a facial injury for almost three months and missing the African Cup of Nations, he remains the team's top scorer with 10 goals in all competitions, alongside other high quality players like Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens and Hirving Lozano.
Qualification: With 53 points in 25 games, including 16 wins, five draws, and four defeats, Napoli are third in Serie A, two points behind the leader, AC Milan. In the Europa League, they beat Leicester 3-2 to finish second after the final round of group games.
Barça and Napoli have only faced each other once before in an official match. It was the last 16 of the 2019/20 season, when the Catalans eliminated the Italians 4 - 2 on aggregate. After a 1-1 draw in what was called the San Paolo stadium at the time, Barça sealed their passage to the next round with a great game in the Camp Nou (3-1).
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