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Napoli vs Barcelona Europa League knockout round play-off second leg 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 decider between Napoli and Barcelona.

Fabián Ruiz trains with Napoli ahead of their play-off decider against Barcelona
Fabián Ruiz trains with Napoli ahead of their play-off decider against Barcelona SSC NAPOLI via Getty Images

Napoli and Barcelona meet in their UEFA Europa League knockout round play-off second leg on Thursday 24 February.

Napoli vs Barcelona at a glance

When: Thursday 24 February (21:00 CET kick-off)
Where: Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples, Italy
What: UEFA Europa League knockout round play-off (1-1 after first leg)
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 happened in the first leg?

Highlights: Barcelona 1-1 Napoli
Highlights: Barcelona 1-1 Napoli

The tie is delicately poised after a 1-1 draw in Spain. Barcelona were on the front foot for much of the opening half-hour but were made to pay for missed chances when Piotr Zieliński gave Napoli the lead. The visitors' game plan looked to be unfolding as Luciano Spalletti would have hoped until Ferran Torres restored parity from the spot just before the hour mark. Torres had further chances; Napoli clung on.

Possible starting line-ups

Napoli: Ospina; Di Lorenzo, Koulibaly, Rrahmani, Mario Rui; Demme, Fabián Ruiz; Elmas, Zielinski, Insigne; Osimhen

Barcelona: Ter Stegen: De Jong, Piqué, Araújo, Alba; Gavi, Busquets, Pedri; Adama, Aubamayeng, Ferran Torres

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.

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.


Form guide

Napoli
Last six games (all competitions, most recent first): DDDWWW
Where they stand: 3rd in Serie A

Barcelona
Last six games: WDDWWL
Where they stand: 4th in Liga

Expert predictions

Paolo Menicucci, match reporter
The 1-1 draw in Barcelona was a good result for Napoli, but the Partenopei still have plenty of work to do. The Catalan visitors squandered several good opportunities in the first leg and cannot be relied upon to be as wasteful this time around, especially with Napoli missing the energy of Stanislav Lobotka and André-Frank Zambo Anguissa in midfield. Victor Osimhen could pose a huge threat at the other end for the Barcelona defence, though.

What the coaches say

Luciano Spalletti, Napoli coach: "Those who fight can lose, but those who don't fight at all have lost already. We need to take risks, command and show what we want to do; otherwise, they’ll force us to defend deep. Barcelona are really strong. They had Lionel Messi, but they have the same quality now, with great players everywhere on the pitch. Both teams will try not to go to extra time."

Xavi Hernández, Barcelona coach: "We will approach the game the same way as if we had won 2-1 or 3-1. We have to dominate. Napoli will put pressure on us and it will be a very intense game. You have to be brave and create chances. It will not be easy. It will be a battle of who has the ball and possession. Napoli are at Champions League level, but it's a good test to prove that Barça can compete in Europe."

Away goals rule abolished

There has been a rule change for 2021/22: ties level after the second leg will go to extra time and a penalty shoot-out if required, irrespective of the number of away goals a team has scored.