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Barcelona vs Napoli Europa League knockout round play-off preview: Where to watch, predicted line-ups, squad changes

When is it? How can you watch it? What are the possible line-ups? All you need to know about the UEFA Europa League knockout round play-off first leg between Barcelona and Napoli.

Barcelona coach Xavi pictured prior to his pre-match media duties on Wednesday
Barcelona coach Xavi pictured prior to his pre-match media duties on Wednesday AFP via Getty Images

Barcelona and Napoli meet in the UEFA Europa League knockout round play-off on Thursday 17 February.

Barcelona vs Napoli at a glance

When: Thursday 17 February (18:45 CET kick-off)
Where: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
What: UEFA Europa League knockout round play-off (second leg 24 February)
Winners: Advance to UEFA Europa League round of 16; losers exit Europe
How to follow: Build-up and live coverage will appear here

Where to watch Barcelona vs Napoli on TV

Fans can find their local UEFA Europa League broadcast partner(s) here.

What do you need to know?

Barcelona's first UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League tie in 18 years could scarcely have been more difficult. Napoli know this competition inside out and, after a couple of underwhelming seasons, they are back challenging for top honours in Italy. Barcelona's own hopes of domestic silverware are all but over – a new trophy to add to their storied haul would be some consolation, though.

See Maradona inspire Napoli to 1989 glory
See Maradona inspire Napoli to 1989 glory

Possible line-ups

Barcelona: Ter Stegen: Dest, Piqué, Araújo, Alba; Gavi, Busquets, Pedri; Traoré, Aubameyang, Dembélé

Napoli: Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Rrahmani, Koulibaly, Mário Rui; Zambo Anguissa, Fabián Ruiz; Elmas, Zieliński, Insigne; Osimhen

Form guide

Barcelona
Last six games (all competitions, most recent first): DWWLLDW
Where they stand: 4th in Liga, Copa del Rey round of 16

Napoli
Last six games: DWWWLW
Where they stand: 3rd in Serie A, Coppa Italia round of 16

What are the knockout round play-offs?

The UEFA Europa League knockout round play-offs have been introduced for the first time this season. There are 16 teams involved: the eight runners-up from the UEFA Europa League group stage and the eight third-placed teams from the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Ties are played over two legs and will conclude on Thursday 24 February; the away goals rule has been abolished. The eight winners advance to the round of 16 draw on Friday 25 February (the eight group winners have already qualified for this); the eight play-off losers will no longer be involved in 2021/22 European competition.

Expert predictions

Graham Hunter, Barcelona reporter
Since the draw was made much has changed. Barça's Copa del Rey defence is over – another trophy come and gone – but they do at least have fresh resources at their disposal, not least the in-form Adama Traoré. Pierre-Emerick is also closing in on a first start since his January move from Arsenal. Barcelona's bid to prove they are the team to beat in this competition starts now.

Vieri Capretta, Napoli reporter
Now at full strength after a couple of months hampered by several injuries, Napoli look close to hitting top form and, on their day, can beat any opponent. Solid at the back and free-flowing in attach, we can expect a great performance and should not rule out any result.

Highlights: Napoli 3-2 Leicester
Highlights: Napoli 3-2 Leicester

What the coaches say

Xavi Hernández, Barcelona coach: "Napoli are a Champions League-level rival, one of the most difficult teams we could have drawn. It will be another tribute to Maradona. We're going to compete, we will fight to win the Europa League and return [to the Champions League] as soon as possible."

Luciano Spalletti, Napoli coach: "If we want to win the competition and donate a trophy to the city, we must be ready for everyone. We can't decide who we play against and when. We will play our game, we will not use a special tactic just because it's Barcelona. We try to play as we know. We know that in some moments we will have to defend and in others try to exploit the spaces."

Squad changes

Barcelona
In
: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ferran Torres, Adama Traoré
Out: Sergio Agüero, Philippe Coutinho, Yusuf Demir, Iñaki Peña

Napoli
In
: Faouzi Ghoulam
Out: Kostas Manolas