Two Off-Form Teams Searching for Consistency in Champions League Last 16

    Napoli vs Barcelona - 21/02/2024

    Two Off-Form Teams Searching for Consistency in Champions League Last 16
    ErreRoberto / Shutterstock.com
    20/02/24 8230

    On Wednesday evening, Napoli welcome Barcelona to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona for the first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 clash.

    Both sides won their respective domestic titles last season, but they have struggled to replicate their consistency this term.

    Can Napoli gain a first-leg advantage on home soil? Or will Barca head back to Camp Nou with something to show for their efforts? Read on to find out what Forebet’s algorithm predicts.

    Napoli were held to a 1-1 draw by Genoa on Saturday, despite racking up 75% possession and 25 shots on home soil, with Cyril Ngonge scoring a 90th-minute equaliser.

    Walter Mazzarri’s men have now managed to win just one of their last five matches across all competitions, failing to score on three occasions.

    It’s fair to say that Napoli also experienced an inconsistent Champions League group stage, as they recorded three wins, two draws and one loss to finish second in Group C.

    That said, Mazzarri’s side have remained strong on home soil in recent times, recording five wins, two draws and two losses in their previous nine home matches.

    Meanwhile, Barcelona claimed a 2-1 victory over Celta Vigo last time out, courtesy of a brace from Robert Lewandowski, who scored his second goal in the 97th minute.

    Xavi’s side have now won three of their last four matches across all competitions, although it has been all plain sailing in recent times.

    Indeed, Barca have lost three of their previous nine encounters, conceding over 3.5 goals in each of those defeats, with a solitary clean sheet coming in that time.

    The five-time Champions League winners also lost two of their six group games earlier this season, suffering shock defeats to Shakhtar Donetsk and Royal Antwerp.

    Head-to-head: Including friendlies, Napoli have managed to win just one of their eight previous meetings with Barcelona, suffering five defeats since 2011.

    The two sides last met during the Europa League knockouts in 2022, with Barca winning 5-3 on aggregate that season.

    Team news: Barcelona’s lengthy injury list features Marcos Alonso, Alejandro Balde, Gavi, Joao Felix, Sergi Roberto and Ferran Torres.

    On the flip side, Napoli have reported no fresh injury problems ahead of the first leg, with star striker Victor Osimhen expected to return to the starting XI.

    There is no denying that both Napoli and Barcelona have not been at their best of late, but the form of the home team has been especially poor.

    With that in mind, Forebet predicts that Barcelona will score over 2.5 goals on their way to victory in Naples, notching a healthy first-leg lead.

    Home team
    Away team
    Probability %
    1X2
    Pred
    Correct score
    Avg. goals
    Weather conditions
    Coef.
    Score
    Live
    coef.
    UCL
    223543
    21-3
    1 - 3
    2.88
    14°
    2.63
    2.60 3.50 2.63 no no no
    FT
    1 - 1(0 - 0)
    -
    - - -

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