Barcelona get past Napoli and advance to the Champions League quarterfinals

For the first time in nearly four years, Barcelona reach the UCL quarterfinals
FC Barcelona v SSC Napoli: Round of 16 Second Leg - UEFA Champions League 2023/24
FC Barcelona v SSC Napoli: Round of 16 Second Leg - UEFA Champions League 2023/24 / Eric Alonso/GettyImages

Joan Laporta, the rest of the Barcelona board and Xavi Hernandez can breathe a huge sigh of relief as the Catalan side beat Napoli 3-1 to advance to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.

After being the better team but only coming away with a 1-1 draw in the first leg, Barcelona started the game on the front foot knowing the importance of getting a result.

Fermin Lopez, one of the players Xavi bet on in the absence of Pedri and Frenkie de Jong, gave Barcelona the lead in the 15th minute. Joao Cancelo received the ball down the left and saw Raphinha make a run inside the penalty. Cancelo laid the ball off to Raphinha who cut the ball across. Robert Lewandowski let the ball through to a wide open Lopez who guided the ball home.

Two minutes later, Cancelo doubled the lead.

Off a corner, Lamine Yamal picked up the ball to start Barcelona's counter. Yamal picked out Raphinha who was one-on-one with the defender and cut inside. He got a shot off only to see it hit the post. The ricochet landed to Cancelo for the second.

Up 2-0 in less than 20 minutes, it looked like it might be a rather comfortable win for Barcelona.

Napoli got rid of that notion after they cut the lead in half in the 30th minute thanks to Amir Rrhamani.

The game leveled off with Napoli having more of the ball and peppering the Barcelona area though only creating half chances. The start of the second half saw more of the same with Barcelona struggling to get back in the game.

Perhaps the turning point was the substitutions made by Xavi. He opted to bring on Sergi Roberto and Oriol Romeu in place of Lopez and Andreas Christensen. He wanted to refresh the midfield a little bit and Christensen was on a yellow card.

Napoli almost found the equalizer after a defensive lapse saw Jesper Lindstrøm wide open on a header only to see his effort go wide.

Napoli would end up ruing that miss as Lewandowski scored Barcelona's third goal to see off the game. Sergi Roberto got the ball off a throw in and laid to Ilkay Gundogan. Sergi Roberto made a run inside the box, which was spotted by Gundogan. He passed it to Sergi Roberto who was all but one-on-one versus the keeper. Instead of taking the shot himself, he passed it to Lewandowski who simply tapped it in.

The goal lifted a weight off the shoulders of nearly everyone inside the Montjuic Stadium with the game still on the line. The final whistle gave way to a celebration as Barcelona advanced to the Champions League quarterfinals for the first time in nearly four years.

"I am really happy. It was a complete performance tonight against the Italian champions, one of the best displays of the season," Xavi said after the game.

"The team gave everything and we dominated for large parts of the game. We have shown that we are ready to compete in Europe again and are back among the top eight teams on the continent."

The win was important for Barcelona as not only did they reach the quarterfinals, but they assured themselves of much needed revenue from UEFA for making it to the next phase of the competition.

On a sporting sense, it saw another dominant display from 17-year-old Pau Cubarsi and 16-year-old Lamal. The young center-back continues to play well beyond his years and did well to nullify Victor Osimhen. Lamal, on the other hand, continues to be a threat whenever he has the ball.


The draw for the quarterfinals is set to take place on Friday. At this stage of the competition, no team is off limits meaning if Barcelona want to make it to the semifinals, they're going to need a bit of luck to avoid some of the European heavyweights.