Barcelona vs Napoli, Champions League: Barça advance to quarter-finals with 3-1 win

Barcelona Vs Napoli: Barcelona defeated Napoli 3-1 to go through to their first Champions League quarter-final in four years, in the second leg of their Round of 16 tie at the Montjuïc Olympic Stadium on Tuesday night.

Barça started strong, struggled in the middle but finished well to move on to the final eight of Europe’s top football competition.

Barcelona starts in spectacular fashion

Barça were sensational at the start, with trademark incisive passes, ball possession wins and generally keeping up the pressure on Napoli.

They created four big chances: Fermín López missed the first two, but converted the third time after an excellent passing sequence down the left wing, a through ball from João Cancelo found Raphinha, who crossed it back to the middle where Robert Lewandowski took out two defenders, allowing Lopez to finish.

Napoli attacked straightaway next but Barça defended and set up another chance on the counter-attack to get a second goal.

Lamine Yamal found Raphinha who shot and hit the post only for João Cancelo to get the rebound to pass the ball into an open net and double the lead for Barcelona.

The Catalans decided to not take too many risks after a comfortable lead, letting Napoli have more possession, while still pressing high to create more chances.

An assist by Matteo Politano and a rare goal by Amir Rrahmani for Napoli shook things up.

Napoli were in full control of the action in the minutes following the goal. Barcelona was starting to feel under the pump as Napoli captain Giovanni Di Lorenzo nearly scored the equalizer with a header that required a world-class stop by Marc-André ter Stegen.

Barça had totally lost the edge by now and the Catalans looked ready to surrender their lead after a great start.

The Catalans managed to keep their lead at halftime, getting some control back.

Napoli were very much still alive and were set for a very tense second half.

Barcelona Vs Napoli: A Tense Second Half

Barça was unable to keep hold of the ball for extended stretches and lost some of the intensity of the first half, which created more spaces for Napoli to attack.

Ronald Araujo and Pau Cubarsí made a couple of key plays, but the Catalans looked a little too stretched.

Xavi Hernández and Napoli coach Francesco Calzona both made substitutions for their tiring squads, looking to add some fresh legs to the wings.

Barça’s changes had a positive impact on the defense and allowed the Catalans to regain control of the ball and slow down the tempo of the game, forcing Napoli to retreat and defend their box during long stretches.

Lamine’s aggressive dribbling went through Napoli’s defense and Barça’s best moments all involved Yamal in some capacity, as Barcelona still needed a third goal to secure qualification.

Xavi looked to his bench for help getting the all-important third goal as João Félix replaced Raphinha, but it was another substitute who decided the game.

Captain Roberto went on a fabulous solo run from left to center, made a gorgeous one-two with Ilkay Gündogan at the edge of the box, as Lewandowski tapped in to restore Barça’s goal lead with seven minutes to go.

Napoli tried everything short of a late miracle, there were a few scares but Barça held on and the final whistle came to send them to the quarter-finals.

A spectacular start and the strong finish helped Barça overcome a very difficult stretch in the middle of the game, making them the deserved team to go through.

Coach Xavi made the right team selection and substitutions, and almost every player performed at a high level for most of the night.

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Cubarsí, Cancelo; Fermín (Roberto 61’), Christensen (Romeu 61’), Gündogan; Yamal, Lewandowski, Raphinha (Félix 80’)

Goals: Fermín (15’), Cancelo (17’), Lewandowski (83’)

Napoli: Meret; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Jesus, Rui (Olivera 64’); Anguissa, Lobotka, Traorè (Raspadori 78’); Politano (Lindstrom 64’), Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia (Ngonge 90+3’)

Goals: Rrahmani (30’)

Barcelona Vs Napoli