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Naples against Barcelona: giants in crisis

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Naples against Barcelona: giants in crisis

As of: February 21, 2024 7:46 a.m

They have big names, but are currently far behind the music in their national leagues: SSC Napoli and FC Barcelona are meeting in the Champions League round of 16 today for a kind of crisis ball.

Wed., 9 p.m.: Naples – Barcelona Arrow right Round of 16 Arrow right

One thing has been certain for a long time: SSC Napoli will play against FC Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16. For a long time it was still unclear which coach the Italian champions would go into this game with. After several Italian media outlets reported earlier this week that coach Walter Mazzarri was being fired, this was confirmed on Monday evening: For Mazzarri, Francesco Calzona is now taking over the southern Italians for the second time and is supposed to get Naples back on the road to success.

SSC Napoli: Bad mood and ninth place

It is the outward sign of a deeply unsatisfactory season that the southern Italian club is having after its sensational title year. Napoli is currently in ninth place in Serie A. After the draw (1-1) against CFC Genoa on Saturday and the defeat against AC Milan a week earlier, the mood is not particularly good. Mazzarri’s dismissal is the second coaching change of the current season.

The 61-year-old Mazzarri only succeeded Frenchman Rudi Garcia in November last year after his dismissal. Luciano Spalletti previously led the SSC to the championship title as coach. Mazzarri had already coached the three-time champion between 2009 and 2013.

Napoli’s Osimhen should finally ignite

The SSC has long since written off defending its title, and the club is now concentrating even more on the knockout games in the Champions League. And now you’re dealing with none other than the great FC Barcelona. In Naples they are particularly hoping for Victor Osimhen, who was a great asset last season but has hardly played at all this season.

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SSC hope: Victor Osimhen

At first, the African Footballer of the Year was unable to get going due to a long-term injury. Then the Africa Cup slowed him down since the end of December. Osimhen reached the final with Nigeria and missed a whopping seven games for his club during this time. Now the star striker is back, but he has brought a few aches and pains with him from Africa. He is currently not expected to last a full 90 minutes.

FC Barcelona: Huge deficit and needs

The mood around FC Barcelona is hardly better. After a pretty good start to the season, the Catalans are now miles away from the top of the table, rivals Real Madrid are already ten points ahead of Barca. This alone is reason enough for a mental crisis that has long since affected the coach in Barcelona. Frustrated, Xavi announced weeks ago that he wanted to leave the club at the end of the season.

It is possible that the national championship title has already been written off in Barcelona – the premier class is now all the more important for the Catalans. But secretly they are already thinking intensively about the next season in Barcelona. Sports director Deco is said to have drawn up an internal list of desired commitments. The fact that this list has become public shows that not everything at Barca stays internal. Several media outlets report the player names Gabriel Martinelli (Arsenal), Amadou Onana (Everton), Kaoru Mitoma (Brighton), Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (Naples) and Aleix Garcia (Girona).

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Huge mountain of debt at Barca

Barcelona’s problem: There is apparently still a huge mountain of debt piling up in front of the club. There is talk of the club carrying around liabilities of 1.2 billion euros. By selling various club divisions, Barca wants to at least meet the league’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) requirements.

Instead of hopeful new signings, things could go in the other direction. Barca still has time from the league until the summer, then the club has to be liquid again. Otherwise you would even have to sell prominent players. Of course, attention quickly falls on Robert Lewandowski, who has really gotten going again in the last few weeks.

Celebrations for Barca: Robert Lewandowski

Lewandowski scores as always

The Pole also had to struggle with injury problems before, but is now really “on fire” again. Just last week, the center forward, who moved to Barcelona in 2022, scored his 50th goal in a Barca jersey. “Every single goal for such a big club makes me proud,” says Lewandowski.

It would be worth gold for his club if the 35-year-old could win the goalscoring duel with Victor Osimhen. Barca can use every additional round in the Champions League for financial reasons.

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