With the second leg of this tie at the Nou Camp, where Barcelona are utterly imperious, Napoli’s chances of making the quarter-finals rest upon a solid home display.
Although a W4-D3-L5 record at the Stadio San Paolo since the end of October is poor, it’s been a tumultuous season on and off the field at the club and recent results have been much better.
Overall, Gennaro Gattuso’s side have won six of their last seven – including victories against each of the current top three in Serie A as they beat Lazio (H), Juventus (H) and Inter (A) – so we’re unsurprised to see the visitors at odds-against.
The Catalans have suffered on their travels in Europe, going just W3-D4-L6 versus the better teams they’ve faced since April 2016 (Inter and Juventus twice each, Atletico, Chelsea, Dortmund, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, PSG, Roma and Spurs).
That includes a terrible W1-D2-L5 record in the knockouts alone, where they managed a grand total of just two goals, while their current away form domestically leaves a lot to be desired.
Barcelona are just W2-D2-L2 on the road since mid-December, with both wins coming by single-goal margins, as they’ve lost two of the last three at Valencia and Athletic Bilbao under new boss Quique Setien.
One of their victories over this spell came over third-tier outfit Ibiza in the Copa del Rey, with Antoine Griezmann netting twice in the last 20 minutes to salvage the situation, and having conceded 10 times over this period in total it’s difficult to envisage the away clean sheet.
Despite the long-term absences of Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele, as well as attacking full-back Jordi Alba with a groin strain, it would come as a surprise if there was a clean sheet down the other end either.
Any team featuring Lionel Messi will pose a danger going forwards and he arrives fresh off the back of a four-goal haul hosting Eibar at the weekend, leaving him with six goals and seven assists in his past six appearances.
Further, key Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly is missing, although these factors are reflected in the price for both teams to score and we’d leave it alone.
Napoli + 0.25 Asian Handicap
That’s especially the case given that since the start of last season, seven of Napoli’s eight clashes with quality opponents in Europe have seen fewer than three goals (Liverpool on four occasions, as well as Arsenal and PSG twice each).
There’s better value to be had backing the hosts on the handicap, and in particular as they demonstrated that they could defend well without Koulibaly recently, with the Senegalese absent for all three of those aforementioned wins over Lazio, Juventus and Inter.
ALL ABOVE PRICES ARE CORRECT AS OF 10:30 24/02/2020 AND ARE SUBJECT TO FLUCTUATIONS
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