Barcelona were caught off guard by Napoli as the two clubs met each other in their first leg UEFA Champions League play-off in the Round of 16 stage.
Barcelona who have won 3 out of their 4 previous friendly encounters with Napoli where caught on the back foot in the opening minutes of the game.
Napoli started off with a defensive strategy making it impossible for Barcelona to find a way through to score.
It was Dries Mertens that provided the opening goal of the game 30 minutes into play for Napoli. The goal also set Mertens tie with Marek Hamsik as Napoli’s all-time top goalscorer with a total of 121 goals.
Barcelona were able to level the score in the 57th minute of the Champions League show down thanks to Antoine Griezmann who scored the away goal for Barcelona.
The drama of the match did not end there as in the final minutes Barcelona’s Arturo Vidal found himself being sent off the pitch.
In the 89th minute he fouled Fabian Ruiz earning himself a yellow card. When Fabian responded, Vidal reacted by shoving his head in Ruiz’s face earnings him his second yellow which saw him marching off the pitch in the dying minutes of the game, leaving Barcelona down to 10 men.
As if this was not enough for Barcelona, they also have to contend with an injured Gerard Pique who suffered an ankle injury at the end of the game, the extent of which is still currently unknown.
Napoli came close to winning the game with Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen managing to fend off the host’s two attempts from Lorenzo Insigne and then Jose Callejon.
Lorenzo Insigne also noted how close they came to winning the first leg of the round of 16 matchup when he gave the following statement after the game:
“We could have won, so we’re a bit disappointed. It was emotional to face players like [Lionel] Messi.”