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“Porto Shine, & Did Barcelona bottle it?” UCL Review by Divyansh 

In Wednesday’s Champions League action, Napoli and Barcelona settled for a 1-1 draw in their Round of 16 clash. Barcelona initially impressed with disciplined play and a goal from Lewandowski, but Napoli’s late resurgence saw them equalize, revealing Barcelona’s vulnerabilities late in the game. 

Meanwhile, Porto secured a 1-0 victory over Arsenal with a dramatic 95th-minute winner in another Round of 16 matchup. Porto’s resilience under manager Sergio Conceicao proved decisive, while Arsenal’s inability to register a shot on target and struggles with Havertz raised questions about their chances in the second leg.

Napoli Vs Barcelona:- 

The first leg of the Champions League Round of 16 clash between Napoli and Barcelona ended in a 1-1 draw. The match was a tense affair, with both sides struggling to create clear-cut opportunities in the first half.

Barcelona took the lead in the 57th minute through Robert Lewandowski, who finished off a well-worked move. However, Napoli responded with a goal of their own 15 minutes later, with Victor Osimhen equalizing after capitalizing on Inigo Martinez’s mistake with a good finish.

Both teams had chances to win the game in the closing stages, but ultimately, the score remained level. This sets up an intriguing second leg at the Camp Nou, where Barcelona will be looking to secure their place in the quarter-finals.

How was the match from Barcelona’s Point of view 

“Until the 75th minute I had decided my title was going to be Barcelona is back” ~ Divyansh

This is not the case because Barca were winning till the 75th minute but because contrary to what’s expected from Barcelona this season which is they might play a rugged & dirty game of football which can be unorganized, devoid of ideas, pointless etc or the classic mental capitulation that we’ve seen in the recent years, they were surprisingly very well disciplined, there was total control & proper chance creation

Robert Lewandowski, Barcelona’s top striker has been under heavy scrutiny this season for missing out on big chances, since the recent few games he has been scoring some world-class goals & those which are expected of a striker of his caliber, & has now started to become a net positive player because due to his age, he isn’t the most mobile & build-up friendly striker at the moment

Pedri, De Jong, Lamine, and Gundogan were the other players who shone brightly for the Catalan team, Gundogan especially another crucial & top-notch performance in a big game like it’s expected from him 

Napoli Disappointing at Home 

“I’d rather watch cringe reels & memes rather than this Napoli team” ~ Divyansh

Coming to the Italian side now, they looked absolutely toothless & lacking in ideas at the start of the game contrary to their opponents who were flawless at the start. Be it the Nigerian star Osimhen or the Georgian sensation Kvaratskhelia, both of them were very well handled by the Barcelona backline & defensive setup, 

Napoli were getting outplayed by Barcelona both on the ball & off the ball. Until the 75th minute except for Osimhen’s goal-scoring chance, the Italian side had nothing going their way.

The only player that actually troubled Barca was in the midfield was Zambo Anguissa who seemed like a man on a mission to disrupt the Barcelona build-up

Another fun fact is that one of the key players of Napoli last season Piotr Zieliński did not play last night because he was removed by the UCL squad of Napoli as a consequence to agreeing a move to Inter Milan for the next season, The Napoli  president was furious & hence removed Piotr Zieliński from the squad

After the 75th minute

As soon as Barca conceded the goal in the 75th minute Napoli saw a chance & they took it, they were pressing Barca constantly, they were more intense than Barcelona who had not made any substitutions, The confidence that we saw in Barcelona till the 75th minute was now no longer visible. They had lost control & command of the game & Napoli was troubling them a lot with long balls & an intense press combined with runs in behind from the shoulder of barca CBs

Barcelona must address defensive woes heading into the second leg 

This Barcelona team is still very vulnerable & can be exposed by many high even decently setup teams who can play on the front foot, press in an organized way & produce good moments in the game

All in all, Barca will have to take care of the moments in the return leg in their temporary home Montjuic because afterall UCL is a tournament of magical moments

Divyansh however still backs Barca to progress to the quarters as he believes they play good football & something way better than that of Napoli

Porto Vs Arsenal:-

Porto the villains

“Porto’s top-notch resilience & villain football was finally rewarded by a 95th-minute winner” ~ Divyansh

FC Porto are a team that you will often find in the UCL KOs in the recent seasons of the competition due to which they know what to do in the K.O games & have a very good experience of how to unsettle big teams by being the underdog.

Porto’s manager Sergio Conceicao, is a very experienced manager who has experience with Italian football & especially with Porto knows how to dismantle the command & control of this arsenal back 4 setup that Arteta uses by tools like long balls & quick fast passing, not only this but arsenal were also beaten in the physical & athletic aspects of the game yesterday.

The goal in the 95th minute was a testament to this as the goal was not a fluke they also missed 2 big chances which was more baffling than the Arsenal performance

The Havertz problem:-

Arsenal on the other hand for the first time since 2011 in a football game did not register a shot on target. The usage of Havertz was once again an issue with the London side, adding to the misery was the absence of Thomas Partey & their first-choice striker Gabriel Jesus

Arsenal need to turn up in the second leg

It’s gonna be a tough but not totally impossible task for Arsenal to progress to the quarters beating this Porto side at the Emirates & turn the tie around. 

They will have to make sure they take the chances because Porto will be ready to defend their lead looking to capitalize on the counter, as they have scored a goal at the ending minutes & are leading the tie 1-0

Conclusion:-

The Champions League Round of 16 saw contrasting fortunes for Barcelona and Porto. Barcelona, despite leading most of the match, conceded a late equalizer to Napoli, raising concerns about their consistency. Porto, meanwhile, secured a dramatic 95th-minute win over Arsenal, showcasing their tactical prowess and resilience.

The return legs promise to be thrilling, with both ties finely balanced. Barcelona must address their late-game lapses, while Arsenal face an uphill battle against a resolute Porto defense. The Champions League continues to deliver captivating narratives, leaving fans eagerly anticipating the next chapter.

What do you think?

Written by Divyansh

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