Despite dominating proceedings in the second half, Barcelona was held to a frustrating 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Europa League playoff clash with Napoli at the Camp Nou. With 67% possession and 21 shots on the night, fingers were pointed at Ferran Torres who, despite equalizing for the Catalans, was responsible for missing a barrage of prime scoring opportunities in the closing stages of the game. With the Blaugranes eager to continue their quest for silverware this season, which Barca stars may make all the difference during their trip to Naples on Thursday night?
The 32-year-old striker seemed fairly subdued during the first leg against Napoli, however, this could likely be due to the fact that this was his first start in a Barcelona shirt. Since then, Aubameyang has truly come into his own, scoring a well-deserved hat trick in the 4-1 thumping of Valencia in La Liga on Sunday.
Aubameyang displayed awareness and precise positioning during the Valencia game, not to mention his famous pace. If he can replicate this performance on Thursday, he could be a potential matchwinner.
While not a guaranteed starter, the 17-year-old brings energy and a high work rate to the pitch that does well to galvanize the rest of the team and swing the momentum in Barca’s favor. Gavi’s linkup play with the likes of Pedri, Frenkie de Jong, and Sergio Busquets will need to be strong in order for Barcelona to churn out a dominant midfield performance.
Despite delivering an underwhelming performance during the first leg, Torres certainly has the potential to give the Napoli defense headaches if he can refind his form. Since arriving at Barca in January, Torres has proven that he has the potential to cause damage to top tier opposition, bagging an assist during the resounding 4-2 victory over Atletico Madrid as well as a goal in the bitter 3-2 defeat to Athletic Club in the Copa del Rey Round of 16.
Frenkie de Jong
Despite not being typically regarded as a goal scorer, de Jong silenced the Mestalla Stadium with a stunning far-range strike in the 4-1 romping of Valencia. Having also netted against Villareal and Alavez in La Liga, the center midfielder has proven that his fluid passing and positioning are not the only assets that he brings to the field.
What is your predicted scoreline for the Napili clash?