Lionel Messi and Clement Lenglet stood out as Barcelona progressed to the Champions League quarter-finals with a 3-1 win over Napoli in the Round of 16 second leg.
The two sides came into the game with the tie hanging in the balance after a 1-1 draw in the first leg. And, Napoli were the first team to have a sniff at goal, only for Dries Mertens to shoot over from close range. Barcelona quickly grew into the game thereafter, with Clement Lenglet putting them in front after nodding in from Ivan Rakitic’s corner.
Midway through the first half, Barcelona’s advantage was doubled in stunning fashion as Lionel Messi scored a wondrous solo goal. Soon after, Messi thought he had scored another, only for VAR to rule the goal out for a handball. Barcelona, though, got their third goal from the spot, as Luis Suarez scored after Messi was brought down by Kalidou Koulibaly inside the Napoli box.
But, heading into half-time, the visitors pulled a goal back, as Lorenzo Insigne scored a penalty of his own after Mertens was fouled by Rakitic. Gennaro Gattuso & co. pushed for the two requisite goals post the interval, but Barcelona held on to their buffer to reach the quarter-finals, where they will meet Bayern Munich. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Quique Setien’s men.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen: 6/10
A game wherein ter Stegen did not have a whole lot of glove-work to do. The German international made just 2 saves on the night and cannot be faulted for conceding from the penalty. With the ball at his feet, he was typically proficient, misplacing just 4 of the passes he attempted. A big night awaits against Bayern Munich.
Nelson Semedo: 8/10
Another step in the right direction for Semedo, who was initially caught out of position when Dries Mertens had his initial chance. Thereafter, though, the Portuguese found stable footing and was dribbled past just 3 times all game.
Defensively, he was reasonably solid, winning 10 duels, making 2 tackles, 2 blocks and 1 clearance. Precise while linking up with the ball, completing 45/49 passes. Amid his uncertain future, does he deserve more faith from Barcelona?
Gerard Pique: 8/10
Like Semedo, Pique was at fault for the first big chance of the game, as Mertens slipped past him, although he was a tad bit unfortunate as well. As for the rest of the game, it was an all-action display by the veteran, whose defensive numbers were an impressive 8 clearances, 2 blocks, 1 tackle and 3 interceptions. Boasted of an impressive 92 percent passing rate as well.
Clement Lenglet: 9/10
A top-class display by Lenglet, who hardly put a foot wrong against Napoli. The Frenchman first put Barcelona ahead with a thumping header from Rakitic’s cross. At the back, Lenglet was unassuming as ever, winning 2 duels, blocking 4 shots, making 3 clearances and completing an interception and a tackle each. Only 4 of his 74 attempted passes failed to reach the target. Brilliant showing.
Jordi Alba: 7/10
A game of hits and misses for Alba. who was not as involved as he usually is down the left flank. While he did play in 3 key passes, he was not available to link up in the final third as much as he would have liked, as Napoli took the game to Barcelona from his flank. Still, did a decent job at the back, with support coming from Lenglet.
Sergio Roberto: 7/10
A professional effort by Roberto, who was preferred in midfield ahead of the burgeoning Riqui Puig against Napoli. Kept things simple in the middle of the park, misplacing just 3 passes all game (72/75 completed), even taking charge at times when Rakitic faltered. Provided solid defensive support as well, winning 3 duels.
Ivan Rakitic: 5/10
The game started well for Rakitic, who provided the assist when Lenglet put Barcelona ahead on the night. The Croat completed 61/65 attempted passes and even played in 1 key pass, but he lost the ball 9 times and was rash when conceding the penalty which Insigne scored from. That moment of foolishness gave Napoli a glimmer of hope, although Barcelona held on. Reaching the end of the line?
Frenkie de Jong: 8/10
Back into the starting lineup after completing his recovery, de Jong was the best midfielder in the game, showcasing yet again just how important he is for Barcelona. Completed 92 percent of his attempted passes and played in 1 key pass, linking up well with Lionel Messi. Involved a great deal in the defensive phase, winning 6 duels, in addition to 2 clearances and 2 interceptions.
Lionel Messi: 9/10
35 – Lionel Messi has scored against 35 different clubs in the Champions League; two more than the next best Cristiano Ronaldo. Collection pic.twitter.com/7CGCmN71YX
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 8, 2020
Once again, it was Messi who inspired Barcelona to a big win, taking the game by the scruff of its neck. While the Barcelona captain had just 1 shot on target – the one he scored from – he pulled the strings effortlessly, constantly leaving the Napoli defender back-pedaling.
The highly-rated Kalidou Koulibaly constantly struggled to deal with Messi and ended up fouling his tormentor before Luis Suarez scored Barcelona’s third. But, the standout moment of the game and for Messi was his spectacular goal, embarking on a solo run, collecting himself after falling and scoring while falling down again. Hardly any superlatives left to describe the genius of the wizard.
Luis Suarez: 6.5/10
Not the best of performances and it seems like Suarez is still not in full flow. While he cannot be faulted for a lack of effort, as always, the veteran striker was wasteful on the ball, completing just 69 percent of his passes. Still, he managed to get on the scoresheet and only a stupendous effort from David Ospina denied him another goal earlier in the game. Can do better.
Antoine Griezmann: 6/10
Back from injury, Griezmann put a shift in, showing great desire to help his team out defensively. In the final third, however, there was so much more he could have done, as he failed to aim a single shot on goal. Accurate with the ball at his feet, though, as missed completing just 2 passes. Will hope to do better next week against Bayern Munich.
A late introduction, Monchu made his Barcelona debut and helped the hosts see the game out.
Junior Firpo: N/A
Helped run down the remaining seconds of the game in injury time.