Naples (Italy) (AFP)
Long very slow and uninspired, Barcelona finally brought a 1-1 draw from Naples, thanks to a goal from Griezmann, who placed the Catalans in good position before the Champions League 8th final return match on March 18 at Camp Nou .
The decisive man was therefore Antoine Griezmann and Lionel Messi did not make Diego Maradona forget in Naples, in any case it was impossible.
Invisible in the first period, the Argentinian like all his team was better in the second period, the one that allowed Barça to return but also cost him dearly, with the injury of Piqué and the suspensions to come from Busquets and Vidal , excluded.
On the Neapolitan side, Gennaro Gattuso had prepared his case well for what was, like his counterpart Quique Setién, his first match of the Champions League on a bench, and he keeps chances to bring his team even higher.
The Italian technician feared Barcelona's aggressiveness at the loss of the ball and indeed, the Catalans were fierce without the ball.
But once it returned between their feet, they did not at first give the impression of knowing what to do with the very low and very compact block of Napoli.
And what could initially pass for patience, with infinite sequences of side passes without risk for the Italians, ended up being especially dangerous for Barça.
A high recovery from Zielinski was enough for Gattuso players to bite. The Pole served Mertens and he sent a magnificent strike into the skylight (1-0, 30th).
- "Diego, Diego!" -
Released in the second period after a brutal tackle from Busquets, who will therefore be suspended on return, the Belgian became the top scorer in the history of his club with 121 goals, tied with Hamsik.
It is six better than Maradona (115), whose shadow was omnipresent throughout Messi's Neapolitan stay.
For his first match in the stadium which made Pibe de Oro a god of football, the "other" Argentine genius was greeted from the warm-up by "Diego, Diego!"
He sent a strike above (9th), the only one on his team for a long time, then the audience had fun with every awkwardness or mishap, a slip, a missed pass. Here the idol is not him.
After the break, Quique Setién's team continued to pass each other, but 15 meters higher, which greatly complicated the task for Naples.
With a little speed, Messi and Busquets combined to launch Semedo on the right wing. The Portuguese centered for Griezmann who, launched full axis, equalized (57th) and demolished the fine work of Gattuso and his family.
Then, Naples still had two great chances by Insigne and Callejon, while the blaugrana were mainly signaled by a class action of Messi (82nd).
In Barcelona, Messi and his family will be favorites. But Naples still has its chances and will always have Maradona.
© 2020 AFP