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The Champions League is back and the draw for the last 16 in Nyon, Switzerland back in December paired the blaugranes with Serie A side Napoli. The teams have never met before in official competition but that does not mean there are plenty of links between the two clubs. We take a look at the current squad, previous friendly encounters and some of the famous faces who have represented both teams.
Coach: Gennaro Gattuso – The Serie A club sealed their place in the last 16 with a win against Genk in their final group stage fixture back in December and promptly sacked coach Carlo Ancelotti the next day. The current boss is former AC Milan boss Gennaro Gattuso who took over with the team in seventh place in Serie A. Since then the former Italian international midfielder has led the side to four wins and five defeats in the league with the Neapolitans slipping to ninth position on 33 points, two off the Europa League places and 12 from the Champions League places.
If their season in the league has been disappointing so far, the Italian outfit have impressed in the Champions League. They finished just a point behind holders Liverpool in their group, recording the best record of any of the runners-up in the group stage, and they took four points from a possible six against Jurgen Klopp’s team. In the Coppa Italia Napoli have one foot in a possible final against either AC Milan or Juventus following a 1-0 win away in the first leg of their semi final against Internazionale.
Key players: Dries Mertens, Arkadiusk Milik, Fabián – The 32 year old Mertens is a legend at Napoli after scoring 120 goals for the club since signing back in 2013. The Belgian scored five times in the group stages and he is ably supported by the Pole Milik who scored a hat-trick in the decisive group stage 4-0 win over Genk. Spanish international Fabián Ruiz provides a silky left foot in midfield.
Winter additions: The Italian added three players to their squad in the January transfer window: versatile midfielder Diego Demme arrived from Red Bull Leipzig, former Celta Vigo midfielder Stanislav Lobotka gives Gattuso more options in the centre of the park and striker Matteo Politano comes in on loan from Inter.
The most famous player to represent both clubs is without doubt Diego Armando Maradona. The Argentine legend was a blaugrana player between 1982 and 1984 before moving to Napoli and reinvigorating the Italian club, taking them to unprecedented success. The man widely regarded as one of the best players of all time won plenty in his two seasons with Barça – a Copa del Rey, a League Cup and a Spanish Super Cup – as well as scoring numerous spectacular goals that form part of the Club’s history, not dissimilar to a certain other Argentinian Barça legend.
In Italy, Maradona continued his success, scoring 115 goals for Napoli and winning the Serie A title twice (1987, 1990), the Coppa Italia (1990) and the UEFA Cup (1989).
Other players to represent both clubs included goalkeeper Pepe Reina and former France national team coach Laurent Blanc.
The two clubs will meet for the first time in official competition at the Stadio San Paolo on 25 February in the first leg of their last 16 Champions League tie. However, the teams have come face to face before, most recently on Barça’s pre-season out of the USA last summer.
25-05-1978. Stadio San Paolo. Naples . Friendly.
Napoli – FC Barcelona 1-1
22-08-2011. Camp Nou. Barcelona. Gamper Trophy.
FC Barcelona - Napoli 5-0
06-08-2014. Geneva Stadium. Geneva. Friendly.
FC Barcelona - Napoli 0-1
07-08-2019. Hard Rock Stadium. Miami. LaLiga – Serie A Cup.
FC Barcelona – Napoli 2-1
10-08-2019. Michigan Stadium. Michigan. LaLiga – Serie A Cup.
FC Barcelona – Napoli 4-0
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