Barcelona face a difficult trip to Naples on Tuesday night as they take on Napoli in the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie.
The Catalan giants moved two points clear in the La Liga title race at the weekend, and buoyed by that, they’ll hope that they can take a big step towards the next stage of the Champions League in midweek too.
It won’t be easy against an in-form Napoli side led by coach Gennaro Gattuso, especially away from home, but based on the starting XI confirmed by Barcelona below, boss Quique Setien has named as strong a line-up as possible to ensure that they take a positive result back to the Nou Camp next month.
Based on the reaction below though, the decision to name midfield stalwart Ivan Rakitic in his XI hasn’t gone down particularly well, but with his experience and quality, he could be an important presence in the middle of the pitch.
That said, Arthur perhaps offers a bit more technical quality, thus allowing them to dictate the tempo and possession more, and his absence is questionable.
Elsewhere, it’s business as usual with Lionel Messi and Antoine Griezmann tasked with leading the charge in the final third with Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez out injured.
Sergi Roberto and Jordi Alba also miss out and so in come Nelson Semedo and Junior Firpo in the full-back positions, while there is likely to be a four-man midfield as Barcelona look to gain a foothold in the game.
It promises to be an intriguing encounter, one that the reigning La Liga champions will hope that they can come out of with something to smile about as they look to put their disappointment over the past two years in the knockout stages of this competition well and truly behind them.
The starting 1??1?? for #NapoliBarça!
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) February 25, 2020
Rakitic about to spoil the mood pic.twitter.com/vgaEckXpby
— Setien’s Son (@SonOfSetien) February 25, 2020
— Niko (@nico10fcb7) February 25, 2020
Rakitic noooooooo????????? pic.twitter.com/JzMUdAaNt5
— Barça.FC (@BaraFC2) February 25, 2020
— Johnny ?? (@johnnyyyh) February 25, 2020
WHICH PART OF “RAKITIC OUT” YOU DONT UNDERSTAND
— mariedu ?? (@puigsfcb) February 25, 2020
Rakitic ????. Just fuckkkkk offffff..
— 2020 UCL Winner (@Sam10Cule) February 25, 2020
— sabrina (@sccpsaz) February 25, 2020
— 25 [MellowSaviour] (@25TheLiquor) February 25, 2020
— FRENKIESTA | HT ?? (@Thahim_99) February 25, 2020
Rakitic in the line up killed all the hype.
Anyways, Visca Barça ???
— Brilliant Busquets ?? (@brilliantbusi) February 25, 2020
— Samuli (@Mosqu1to_) February 25, 2020
Rakitic in place of Arthur ???
— Melo (@ArrthurEra) February 25, 2020