FC Barcelona stormed into the last-16 of the UEFA Europa League with an emphatic 4-2 (5-3 on aggregate) victory over Napoli. Xavi’s men completely dominated the Italians at their home stadium in Naples. Goals from Jordi Alba, Frenkie De Jong, Gerrard Pique, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang ensured the passage of the team to the next round, where they’ll now face Turkish team Galatasaray.
The first leg of the encounter against Galatasaray will be on 10 March at the Camp Nou, and the second leg will be played on 17 March at the Nef Stadyumu in Istanbul.
Coached by Domenec Torrent, who was the assistant manager of Barca during the tenure of Pep Guardiola (2008-2012), Galatasaray are enduring a very disappointing 2021/22 season. The team, which finished 2nd last season, is currently placed at the 13th spot in the Turkish Super Lig. They are a mammoth 34 points behind league leaders Trabzonspor and only 6 points away from a relegation dog fight.
Though, in their Europa League campaign, Galatasaray comfortably won their group, comprising Lazio, Marseille, and Lokomotiv Moscow. They were unbeaten in the 6 group games, winning three and drawing the rest.
Incidentally, for this encounter, Barca loanee Inaki Pena will feature for the Turkish team. Since his loan in the January transfer window, Pena has impressed at Turkey with some impressive performances and has established himself as the starter. In his debut, he also broke Galatasaray’s record for saves, which helped the team earn a crucial point.
Moreover, Galatasaray also boasts former Barca player Arda Turan in their ranks. The Turkish international played for the Blaugrana from 2015 to 2018, featuring 55 times. He also has a Champions League hat trick for Barca under his belt. Though, off the field incidents cut his tenure at the club short.
For Barca, youngster Gavi will miss the first leg of the tie due to suspension. He received his third yellow card in European competitions against Napoli in the second leg.
Barca will go into this tie as favourites to advance to the quarterfinals of the Europa League, though, they have to be wary of the second leg in Istanbul, which is expected to be a hostile atmosphere for the Catalans.