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Napoli vs Barcelona Prediction 21 February 2024

Napoli vs Barcelona Prediction 21 February 2024

Napoli take on the visitors Barcelona in the first leg of UEFA Champions League 1/8-finals. The match will be played on Wednesday, February 21st at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona (Naples).

Napoli are currently failing as badly as it shone in the previous season. Strictly speaking, the Partenopei were truly impressive in the first half of the 2022/2023 season. Initially, the team had incredible statistics, and, by the way, they also reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League, only losing to Milan in the spring. At that time, the club from Naples deflated both in Serie A and in other competitions, but they managed to clinch the long-awaited Scudetto. However, understanding what to expect, Spalletti quickly announced his desire to take a break. He was replaced by Rudy Garcia, who quickly faced negative results due to the unsuccessful start in the new season. The Frenchman was swiftly dismissed by De Laurentiis, but his subsequent decision to bring Mazzarri back to Naples only worsened the situation. Walter's previous success in Naples did not help him much this time. With him at the helm, they suffered a humiliating defeat to modest Frosinone in the national cup, and their trip to Saudi Arabia for the Super Cup, which started with a 3-0 win against Fiorentina, ended with a decent but unsuccessful match against Inter in the final. In Serie A they continued to decline. Thus, only the Champions League remains, and even there, securing the second spot, the Italians showed nothing against Real. However, they will face a weaker opponent from Spain this time.

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Barcelona experienced a resurgence after a prolonged period of setbacks the year before. Initially, they won the Super Cup by defeating Real. Then, most importantly, they won La Liga, doing so ahead of schedule. However, a new wave of setbacks followed, leading to Xavi announcing in midwinter that he would leave the project in the summer. Before this announcement, the more than a club lost to the galacticos 1-4 in the Super Cup, and shortly after that, they faced defeat in extra time against Athletic in the Copa del Rey format. By the way, the Basques along with another sensation of the season, Girona, threaten to knock the grand club from Catalonia out of the quartet of La Liga leaders. There are constant stumbles, like the 3-3 draw at home with the underdog Granada. The only relief is the Champions League, and even then, reaching the playoffs will be considered a success only after two failures, when in 2021 and 2022, the favorite managed to finish third in their respective groups. And they need to advance further against stronger opponents.

In 2020, the clubs played at this same level – after a 1-1 draw in Naples in February, the culés only managed to win half a year later, when they started to emerge from lockdown. In February 2022, already in the Europa League, after another draw, but at Camp Nou, Xavi and his team won in Italy. The visitors are given a slight advantage. However, we do not expect final success for anyone just yet, so we're going with a neutral bet on total over 2.5 goals.

Prediction for the match: Over 2.5 scored goals.

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Dylan McLaughlin
Football tipster