Barcelona draw Napoli in the Champions League round of 16

While Barcelona could have hoped for a different opponent, both sides will fancy their chances of reaching the quarterfinals.
Napoli v FC Barcelona - UEFA Europa League
Napoli v FC Barcelona - UEFA Europa League / Soccrates Images/GettyImages

The Champions League draw of the round of 16 came and went with Barcelona matched up with Napoli.

This isn't the first time these two sides have met one another in Europe. The most recent clash was in the Europa League where Barcelona won at home, 2-1, and then won in Napoli, 4-2. In the Champions League, the last time faced was in 2020 where the Catalans won 4-2 on aggregate.

It's one of the match-ups where both teams have a chance to go through. It's also a match between two teams who hope to be somewhere different come February.

Napoli currently sit fifth in Serie A, 14 points behind Inter Milan. Barcelona, on the other hand, sit third in La Liga, nine points back of Girona.

"We are playing against the current Italian champions and I think it'll be difficult, Xavi Hernandez said. "I think we have a 50% chance because they are in a similar situation to our own."

Barcelona have looked far from the team that won the league last season. They are nowhere near as defensively solid as they were last season and while they generate a decent amount of goal scoring opportunities, they have consistently missed more than they have converted. Not exactly a recipe for success.

Napoli fired Rudi Garcia and replaced him with Walter Mazzarri as their title defense already looks over. One of the revelations of last season, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, isn't enjoying the same success this season.

"I said after the match against Cagliari that all of the teams that qualidfied for the round of 16 are tough propositions and there any pairing would be diifficult," Mazzarri said. "Barcelona are especially challenging. it's a thrilling prospect for us."

For Napoli, Barcelona were one of the "easier" opponents to draw given their inconsistencies in the league and in Europe. For Barcelona, there were other preferred opponents but it isn't the worst draw for them either.

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With Barcelona awaiting the arrival of Vitor Roque and the possibility of signing of another midfielder in the works, the hope is Xavi is somehow able to revert their situation and manage to progress to the quarterfinals. Both in a sporting and financial sense, reaching the quarterfinals would be a significant boost for the Catalan giants.