The UEFA Champions League is back as we begin the round of 16 phase of the competition. All of the clubs left in the mix will believe that they’re in with a real chance of making a run deep into the knockouts, but as we know, this is as competitive as it gets in European football. Today, we’ll be taking a look at the upcoming first leg encounter between Napoli and Barcelona.Napoli Form Guide
Napoli are the kings of Italian football after their Serie A triumph last season. At this point, though, the celebrations are a distant memory, as the focus turns to what they can achieve this season. They made some real progress in the Champions League last time out but if they want to cement themselves as one of the continent’s big players, they need to go a step or two further.
After beating Braga 2-1 on the road, Napoli were then defeated 3-2 by Real Madrid. They rebounded with a nice 1-0 win over Union Berlin in Germany before returning to Italy where they drew the return fixture 1-1. They proceeded to lose 4-2 to Real at the Bernabeu, but made up for it with a 2-0 win over Braga.Barcelona Form Guide
Barcelona’s recent history has been turbulent, to say the least, with troubles off the pitch often serving as a dark cloud hanging over what they’ve been able to achieve on it. The Spanish giants are still a force of nature, though, and with the squad they have at their disposal, they’re definitely going to be a team to watch as dark horses in the grand scheme of things.
Barca’s campaign started in style as they battered Antwerp 5-0 before defeating Porto 1-0. They kept the train rolling with a 2-1 win over Shakhtar, before a surprising 1-0 loss in the reverse fixture. They then did well to edge past Porto 2-1 at home, before a stunning 3-2 defeat to Antwerp.Match Prediction
We’re really not sure who to put our money on in a game like this because Napoli and Barcelona both have big strengths and big weaknesses. It’s going to be a nervy first leg encounter with our official prediction being that under 2.5 goals will be scored.