The Europa League is unfamiliar territory for Barcelona, but although ensuring a top four spot domestically is Xavi’s top priority, he is expected to name a reasonably strong side here.
However, a 2-2 draw with Espanyol at the weekend saw his roster further reduced with centre-back Ronald Araujo forced off at half time, leaving the Catalans particularly short at the back.
Clement Lenglet and Samuel Umtiti are also sidelined, so Eric Garcia and Oscar Mingueza will compete to start alongside veteran Gerard Pique at the heart of defence.
With Sergi Roberto injured and Dani Alves not in the Europa League squad, Sergino Dest should expect to start at right back, while further forwards Ansu Fati is unavailable and Memphis Depay hasn’t played for a month after his own injury lay-off.
Both Teams To Score
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang could be in line for his full debut and Ousmane Dembele is expected to make his first start in over a month, and it would be a surprise if Barcelona couldn’t muster enough in the final third on home turf to land a blow.
Indeed, Napoli have kept just five clean sheets from 18 matches since the start of November, while their defensive record in European matches leaves a lot to be desired.
The visitors have shut out their opponents in just four of their last 20 such games, with three of them coming over KRC Genk, HNK Rijeka and Legia Warszawa.
Both teams scored in eight of the 10 of these that came on the road, so they have also proven themselves capable of doing the business down the other end.
Barcelona have only managed two shut outs of their own from their last 15 matches, conceding at least twice in four of their last five as the exception came against an Alaves side mired in the relegation zone.
Both teams have scored in 10 of Barcelona’s past 12 appearances, and that appears highly likely once again with neither side convincing at the back.
BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE
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