Barcelona romped their way to a convincing 4-2 victory over Napoli in the UEFA Europa League RO32. The former La Liga champions displayed a traditional Barca performance in front of a hostile Napoli crowd and dominated from the word go.
The two goals that were conceded were down to Marc Andre Ter Stegen having a bad day in between the sticks. The German goalkeeper conceded a penalty to Victor Osimhen to allow Napoli to come back into the game with their first. The second goal was a low shot from Matteo Politano, beating the 29-year-old at his near-post. In both the goals, Ter Stegen did not move an inch and it is something that will be discussed for the foreseeable future.
When asked about potentially being the favourites to win the Europa League…
Speaking after the game, Xavi was delighted about his team’s performance but refused to accept that his side were the favorites to win the Europa League.
“Favourites in the Europa League? Not at all… We have to continue working with all the humility in the world, we played a great game but we’re in the round of 16, nothing has been won here.”
Barcelona have improved
Barcelona’s general outlook and performances have gone up a notch higher, after the International break. It seems that all the players are starting to embrace the roles given to them and a special mention has to be given to Frenkie De Jong. The Dutch midfielder was sensational at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium and ran the Barca midfield. He also scored a sumptuous goal, beating Alex Meret at his far post with a beautiful chip from range.
“Frenkie de Jong is a genius.”, said Xavi when asked about Frenkie De Jong.
“I think we’re on the right track. We are improving the understanding of the game but we also have to take advantage of the transitions. We have a lot of players to do this, like Dembélé, Adama, Ferran Torres and Aubameyang. But, above all, we want to dominate.”, opined Xavi after his side’s convincing display.
This victory gives us morale and confidence…
Xavi also mentioned the fact that the game against Napoli in Naples was the first instance where his team dominated for the entire duration of 90 minutes. It has been a trend with Barcelona this season. The Blaugrana tend to dominate up until the hour-mark but lose the plot in the final 30-40 minutes of the game. Xavi has reiterated that his side needs to maintain the pressure for longer periods and not give the ball away in critical areas, in the second half.
“It’s a very important victory for us, it gives us morale and confidence, but we have to continue working with the utmost humility. We dominated the game for 90 minutes, something that hadn’t happened since I arrived. We’re reaping the fruits.”
What next for Barca?
The action for Barcelona now moves on to the La Liga Santander. The Los Cules will take on Athletic Club on Sunday, at Camp Nou. A victory over the Los Leones will solidify Barca’s case for the fourth, or possibly, the third spot in the La Liga table. Currently, Xavi’s side are in a race with Atletico Madrid for the fourth spot, as both sides look to secure their UEFA Champions League qualification status for next term.
A medical student with an avid interest for the game.