Napoli vs Barcelona

, KO: 20:00 Feb 21, 2024, Diego Maradona Stadium

XAVI would love to sign off as Barcelona boss by getting his hands on the European Cup again and will fancy his chances of seeing off Napoli in the last 16 after Walter Mazzarri was sacked on the eve of this first leg.

The Nou Camp legend, who won the Champions League four times as a player, has announced he will be standing down at the end of the campaign after three rollercoaster years at the helm.

But Napoli didn't hang about for their latest managerial change, with Francesco Calzona taking over from Mazzarri on Monday night to throw their preparations for this tie into chaos.

With Barcelona sitting third in La Liga and already out of the Copa Del Rey, it looks like ruling Europe once more is the only way Xavi will sign off with some silverware.

The bookies can't see that happening, with most firms making Barca 20/1 shots to go all the way, but Napoli's troubles have made them favourites to reach the last eight.

The Italian champions strolled to the Serie A title last season and romped through the Champions League group stage before falling in the quarter-finals against Milan.

But losing boss Luciano Spalletti in the wake of that historic title triumph sent them into decline and successor Rudi Garcia was sacked in November after falling 10 points off the pace in Serie A.

Results were even worse under Mazzarri and Napoli now find themselves sitting ninth, a whopping 27 points behind Inter Milan. That saw his reign come shuddering to a halt but Calzona still has some talented players at his disposal and Napoli are capable of hurting Barcelona if they click back into gear.

How the bookies view it

Napoli's slump in form has them as 6/4 outsiders at BoyleSports to reach the quarter-final, with Barcelona just 8/13 with 888Sport to go through. But it's the Italians who are slight 17/10 favourites for a first-leg win at home with Betfair while the Catalans are 13/8 shots at Bet365.

Head to head

These sides have only faced off four times before in Europe, with all those games coming in the last four years. Barcelona have yet to taste defeat, with two wins and two draws. The Catalans will be hoping for a repeat of their last trip to Naples in the Europa League two years ago when they claimed a thrilling 4-2 victory.

Players to watch

Victor Osimhen is back in business for Napoli after being on Africa Cup of Nations duty with Nigeria. The striker was rested at the weekend due to fitness concerns but is expected to start against Barca and is 13/8 at SkyBet for anytime scorer.

It's hard to look past Roberto Lewandowski for a Barcelona goal given his incredible record in the Champions League. The veteran Pole has scored eight times in his last 11 matches and will be on a high after a weekend double. He's 7/4 with Bet365 for anytime scorer in Naples.

Anything else catch the eye?

Armchair fans will be hoping for a repeat of Napoli's clashes with Barcelona's great rivals Real Madrid in the group stage, with those two games producing 11 goals in total. Two bets landed for me in Real's 3-2 Naples victory but I should have gone for corners as well, with the game producing 18 in total. We could see plenty of flag kicks in this one as well and over 10.5 corners pays 6/4 at BoyleSports.

The bookies are banking on goals, with BTTS just 5/8 at VBet and over 2.5 strikes only a little better at 4/5 with Betfair. Combining both those picks pays evens with Bet365.

Some stats bets catch the eye in what should be an open game. Barcelona wonderkid Lamine Yamal is 49/50 (Unibet) just to have a shot on target while Joao Cancelo is 7/5 (Paddy Power) for over 1.5 fouls and could be up against the lively Kvitcha Kvaratskhelia.

This match between Napoli and Barcelona will be played on Feb 21, 2024 and kick off at 20:00. Check below for our tipsters best Napoli vs Barcelona prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.

Napoli vs Barcelona Betting Tips & Predictions
Over 10.5 corners
BTTS and over 2.5 goals
Joao Cancelo over 1.5 fouls

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