The lowdown on SSC Napoli

The lowdown on SSC Napoli

We take a closer look at the team that stands between FC Barcelona and a place in the Champions League quarter finals

Following a 1-1 draw between Napoli and Barça at the Stadio San Paolo almost half a year ago, what must be the longest two-legged fixture in both clubs' histories will finally be decided on Saturday at 9.00pm CEST. A place in the final tournament in Portugal is the prize, and here we take a closer look at one of Serie A's strongest teams of recent years. 


Naples dates back to the days when the Ancient  Roman and Greek culture were merging, and was the capital of its own Kingdom until 1816. The home of Baroque culture, and especially the artist Caravaggio, its most famous sights include the nearby Roman ruins at Pompeii. It is now the third largest city in Italy.

mini_2020-02-26 OTRO NAPOLES-BARCELONA 07


Naples Foot-Ball & Cricket Club was founded by English mariners in 1905, although the modern-day club was officially created in 1926. They won the first of their six Coppa Italia trophies in 1962 and 1976, but despite frequently challenging, they would not win Serie A until 1987, and again in 1990, very much inspired by Diego Maradona and in what many viewed as a triumph of the marginalised south over the dominant north of Italy.

The club went into decline after that, and was even relegated to Serie C following a financial crisis, and had little to do with the period in which Italian football dominated European football. But the last decade has witnessed a resurgence. Napoli are now Champions League regulars and have been the club that has done most to challenge Juventus’ monopoly on the Scudetto.


Serie A: 5th
Champions League: Eliminated in playoff / Europa League: Semi Final
Also won the Coppa Italia

Serie A: 2nd
Europa League: Round of 32

Serie A: 3rd
Champions League: Round of 16

Serie A: 2nd 
Champions League: Eliminated in group stage / Europa League: Round of 16

Serie A: 2nd
Champions League: Eliminated in group stage / Europa League: Quarter final


After nine consecutive top five finishes, this has been a disappointing year by Napoli’s recent standards. After a decent start they had a spell of 12 games with just one win. Although their form recovered after February, they eventually had to settle for seventh.

Last five games (all Serie A)
Napoli 2-1 Udinese
Parma 2-1 Napoli
Napoli 2-0 Sassuolo
Internazionale 2-0 Napoli
Napoli 3-1 Lazio

Napoli only conceded one goal in the entire Coppa Italia and claimed their 6th victory in the competition with a 4-2 on penalties over Juventus in the final after a 0-0 draw. 

2019-08-07 NAPOLES-BARCELONA 14-min

Champions League Group Stage
Napoli 2-0 Liverpool
Genk 0-0 Napoli
RB Salzburg 2-3 Napoli
Napoli 1-1 RB Salzburg
Liverpool 1-1 Napoli
Napoli 4-0 Genk

Round of 16
Napoli 1-1 FC Barcelona


Most capped internationals: David Ospina (Colombia, 104); Dries Mertens (Belgium, 90); Elseid Hysaj (Albania, 54); Piotr Zieliński (Poland, 51); Arkadiusz_Milik (Poland, 49); Orestis Karnezis (Greece, 43); Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal, 42); Kostas Manolas (Greece, 42); Hirving Lozano (Mexico, 39); Faouzi Ghoulam (Algeria, 37); Lorenzo Insigne (Italy, 34); Nikola Maksimović (Serbia, 24); Fernando Llorente (Spain, 24); Stanislav Lobotka (Slovakia, 22); Elif Elmas (N Macedonia, 18)

Top goalscorers 2019-20 (all competitions): Dries Mertens (16); Arkadiusz Milik (23); Lorenzo Insigne (10)

Most appearances 2019-20 (all competitions): Piotr Zieliński (43); Giovanni Di Lorenzo (42); Fabián Ruiz (41)

Puyol and Gattuso in 2005/06 / FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ - FCB


The mid-season slump led to the dismissal of Carlo Ancelotti, and he was replaced in December by Gennaro Gattuso, one of AC Milan’s greatest players of recent years and a member of Italy’s World Cup winning squad of 2006. As a manager, he was at Sion (Switzerland), Palermo, OFI Crete (Greece) and Pisa before becoming part of the Milan setup in 2017 and becoming senior team manager after Vincenzo Montella was sacked.

And Gattuso is a huge fan of the FC Barcelona youth system, Listen to what he had to say about it here!


The first leg was the first ever competitive encounter between the teams, but they had met five times before that in friendlies

25-05-1978. Stadio San Paolo. Naples. Friendly.
Napoli 1-1 FC Barcelona

22-08-2011. Camp Nou. Barcelona. Gamper Trophy.
FC Barcelona 5-0 Napoli 

06-08-2014. Geneva Stadium. Geneva. Friendly.
FC Barcelona 0-1 Napoli

07-08-2019. Hard Rock Stadium. Miami. LaLiga – Serie A Cup.
FC Barcelona 2-1 Napoli

10-08-2019. Michigan Stadium. Michigan. LaLiga – Serie A Cup.
FC Barcelona 4-0 Napoli

25-02-2020. Michigan Stadium. Stadio San Paolo. Naples. Champions League
Napoli 1-1 FC Barcelona


In June of this year, Dries Mertens became Napoli’s highest goalscorer of all time (122 goals), overtaking Slovakian Marek Hamsik, now playing in China, who had topped Maradona’s previous record in 2017.

Although Napoli has withdrawn the No 10 shirt in honour of Maradona, it was used from 2004 to 2006 when the club was in Serie C, as that division uses the traditional 1-11 numbering system.

When Mexican Hirving Lozano arrived from PSV Eindhoven at the start of this season, he was Napoli’s most expensive purchase of all time.

Napoli’s blue shirts are a representation of the sea, so important to the city’s history. In addition to the azzurri (blues), the team is also known as I ciucci, which means 'the donkeys' in the local dialect. They were called that after a particularly bad season in the 1920s, but have proudly kept the name!

Barça's has its own supporters club based in Naples, founded earlier this year. We spoke to them before the first leg.

Força Barça
Força Barça

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