NAP
Napoli
1
FT
Agg: 1-1
1
BAR
Barcelona
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Champions League scores: Napoli fight back for draw vs. Barca; Galeno's late stunner sees Porto top Arsenal

Everything is still possible after the first leg of Wednesday's games in the round of 16 of the Champions League as Napoli drew 1-1 at the Stadio Maradona in Naples against FC Barcelona, while Arsenal conceded late and lost at Porto 1-0 thanks a stunning goal scored by Galeno. 

The debut of new Napoli coach Francesco Calzona didn't start so well as Barcelona dominated the first half and the Azzurri failed to have a single shot in the first half for the first time this season in all competitions, but things didn't get better in the second half as Polish striker Robert Lewandowski scored the opening goal of the night in Naples. 

However, Napoli started to keep more of the ball and found the equalizer with Victor Osimhen, who came back on Wednesday for the first time since his return from the 2024 Africa Cup of Nations. Napoli pushed for the winner but couldn't get it, finishing the game having converted their only shot on goal. 

For sure there is a lot of work to do for new coach Calzona, since Napoli only had one shot on target in the whole game and Osimhen touched the ball only nine times. At the same time, the fact that Napoli did not lose it's definitely a good news looking ahead at the second leg. Everything will be decided in Barcelona on March 12 in the second leg.  

In Portugal, Arsenal conceded a late goal to Porto, who scored in the last minute of action and the Gunners need to win at the Emirates after a disappointing match in Oporto. Take a look at the stunning goal scored by Galeno, who also missed a big chance in the first half but then was able to decide the first leg in this way: 

Champions League scores

  • Napoli 1, Barcelona 1
  • Porto 1, Arsenal 0
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GOAL - Porto win it at the death

That's some way to make amends for the earlier miss. Galeno opens his body up in the left channel, curls at the far post and Raya has no chance. Porto are going to London with a 1-0 lead!

February 21, 2024, 9:53 PM
Feb. 21, 2024, 4:53 pm EST
 
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FT: Napoli 1, Barcelona 1

Despite Napoli tried to score another one in the last minutes, the game ended 1-1 in Naples. 

 
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Napoli are pushing now

The home team is trying to score another one now, and with the changes now it looks like the Azzurri have more power in their legs to make it. 

 
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No sign of a spark

I don't want to bang one particular drum over and over but I think the statistic that says the most about this game is the fact that every Arsenal outfield player has committed a foul in this game. I can't imagine Porto would be anything other than delighted about that, not least because it comes alongside a string of sloppy errors in possession too. It feels like the visitors have just got a little too wound up on their return to the big time.

February 21, 2024, 9:41 PM
Feb. 21, 2024, 4:41 pm EST
 
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GOAL - Napoli 1, Barcelona 1 

If we were not surprised to see Lewandowski scoring, well we shouldn't be surprised to see Osimhen in the scoresheet. The Nigerian striker equalized in his first real chance of the game so far and took advantage of a mistake by Inigo Martinez, who tried to anticipate him but failed to touch the ball. Right after the goal scored, Calzona replaced both Osimhen and Politano, with Raspadori and Simeone coming in. 

 
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First changes 

Napoli coach Calzona decided to replace Kvaratskhelia who didn't have hist best game of the season with Traore, while also Lindstrom took the place of Cajuste. 

 
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Porto holding firm

It is often unwatchable but you have to admire Porto's defensive work through the first hour and change. Arsenal get away up the left and Martinelli skins Pepe. For a second he looks like he's away but the excellent Varela gets across to snuff out the danger. He has done that brilliantly all night.

February 21, 2024, 9:24 PM
Feb. 21, 2024, 4:24 pm EST
 
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GOAL - Barcelona 1, Napoli 0 

Who, if not him? Robert Lewandwoski scored the opener at the Stadio Maradona and a deserved one for what we've seen so far. Pedri finds the Polish striker between the midfield and defensive lines and Lewandowski is a master when it comes to score such goals.  

 
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Second half, same game

The second half started as the first half ended, with Napoli much more confident to keep the ball but with Barcelona having the best chances. Nothing particular happened in the first ten minutes of the second half, but we can expect some changes soon from the two managers.

 
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All eyes on Gozubuyuk

With 48 minutes played, the referee tonight has blown for 22 fouls. A fair few of them have been valid and it has been by Porto's design that this has been such an attritional contest. Equally that means that Gozubuyuk's approach, which verges on the pedantry, inadvertently favors the hosts.

February 21, 2024, 9:11 PM
Feb. 21, 2024, 4:11 pm EST
 
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HT: Porto 0, Arsenal 0

If you're a neutral looking for the most entertainment, I can't believe this game is it. Porto are defending very well with so little of the ball while Arsenal have turned their 70 percent possession into a few half chances off corners. They might also feel that they have not been particularly tested bar that one moment... and what a moment it was. How Galeno hasn't scored there, I'll never know.

February 21, 2024, 8:51 PM
Feb. 21, 2024, 3:51 pm EST
 
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HT: Napoli 0, Barcelona 0

After a strong start from the visitors, Napoli were able to keep more the ball and improved in the last part of the first half even if they failed to have single shot for the first time this season. Barcelona had two chances and three shots on target, but Napoli's goalkeeper Alex Meret saved on both Lewandowski and Gundogan. 

 
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Hardly box office stuff

This is just the sort of game Porto would want: attritional, disrupted and extremely low shot. In large part that is because of the impressive work they themselves have done packing the center of the pitch, challenging their visitors either to break the lines or to switch the ball, which can be a high risk endeavour. Any heavy touches and the hosts pounce, forcing Martinelli backwards and stealing the ball. A Pepe backheel tees up Evanilson, whose mind is firmly set on shooting. He does so but too close to Raya.

February 21, 2024, 8:41 PM
Feb. 21, 2024, 3:41 pm EST
 
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Meret saves

Napoli's goalkeeper Meret made two saves on Lewandowski and on Gundogan from outside the box, but the home team is suffering right now and can't keep Barcelona away from the box. Barcelona already had three big chances in the first part of the first half of the game at the Maradona. 

 
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What a miss!

How are Porto not ahead? The hosts are threatening quite frequently down the Arsenal left so far and a cross from the byline sees Galeno hook the ball brilliantly towards goal ahead of a flat-footed Saliba. His shot cannons off the post and lands back at the Brazilian, whose instinctive volley then flies wide of the other post from only a few yards out.

February 21, 2024, 8:24 PM
Feb. 21, 2024, 3:24 pm EST
 
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Pressure on Rice

Well this could be a surprising plotline early on. Having already been booked, Rice gets what looks to be a fairly harsh foul given against him for clattering into Gonzalez. The England international is now hovering awkwardly in disciplinary terms and that could be a headache for Arteta, less in terms of Rice's composure than Serdar Gozubuyuk's willingness to blow for anything.

February 21, 2024, 8:22 PM
Feb. 21, 2024, 3:22 pm EST
 
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Strong start for Barcelona 

Xavi's team are keeping the control of the ball and already had one chance with Lamine Yamal after a mistake of Lobotka who lost the ball while he was trying to start the action from behind. Few minutes later, Yamal had another chance but Meret saved it. Strong start by the Barcelona... 

 
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Slow and steady in Porto

Arsenal are seeing an awful, awful lot of the ball at the Dragao so far, in the first eight minutes they had an 83 percent possession tally. However they are finding the Porto backline to be a very disciplined 4-4-2 that is not easily broken down, indeed so far the only defensive whiff has been from a red shirt, Rice diving into a challenge on Galeno he was never going to win and getting booked inside the first two minutes.

February 21, 2024, 8:09 PM
Feb. 21, 2024, 3:09 pm EST
 
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KICK OFF 

The Napoli-Barcelona and Porto-Arsenal games have started! Follow all the action with us minute by minute... 

 
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Stats leaders

Kick off is fast approaching but there's just enough time to point out that Porto vs. Arsenal contains two of the competitions five leaders in terms of goal involvement since the start of the group stage. Both Saka and Galeno have seven to their name, placing them in the most elite of company:

  • Harry Kane, four goals, three assists 620 minutes 
  • Phil Foden, four goals, three assists 477 minutes 
  • Jude Bellingham, four goals, three assists, 449 minutes 
  • Galeno, four goals, three assists, 441 minutes
  • Bukayo Saka, three goals, four assists, 335 (!) minutes
February 21, 2024, 8:00 PM
Feb. 21, 2024, 3:00 pm EST
 
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Another giant killing in Porto?

The Dragao has been quite the tough place for visiting teams, particularly those from Italy. Juventus, Milan and Lazio have all been beaten in recent years while even Manchester City were held to a goalless draw back in 2020. On home soil they tend to win but win by fine margins; since the start of the 2019-20 season they have won 11 of their 21 games, losing seven, with 30 goals scored and 29 conceded. Bafflingly their expected goal difference is actually far better on the road but when it comes to getting results, home comforts tend to make all the difference.

February 21, 2024, 7:30 PM
Feb. 21, 2024, 2:30 pm EST
 
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Arteta sticks with what works

When you've scored 11 goals in your last two games, both of them on the road, you're probably not minded to change much up. As such it's no great surprise that Arteta names what is an entirely unchanged XI from the side that won at West Ham and Burnley, meaning that dual 10 system of Trossard and Havertz at the tip of the attack. There's not great depth on the bench to change things up if required but Fabio Vieira does return to the squad and could feature for the first time in 2024.

Meanwhile Porto have made a change with Wendell coming in for Zanusi at left back. That's it though really for a team who beat Estrela Amadora at the weekend.

February 21, 2024, 7:08 PM
Feb. 21, 2024, 2:08 pm EST
 
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Osimhen is back 

In his first ever lineup as Napoli coach, Calzona has Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen back in the roster for the first time since the player came back from the 2024 AFCON. He will lead the attacking line of the Italian side alongside Matteo Politano and Kvicha Kvaratskhelia

 
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Barcelona need to focus on UCL

Xavi's team has struggled so far also due to injuries, but some poor performances of the team led the manager to make the unexpected decision to leave Barcelona at the end of the season and add more questions to the club's future. While the club will start to look at the options available for the job, Xavi will try to leave his beloved club with another trophy, and the Champions League is a concrete target. 

 
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Napoli's new coach

This is the debut of Francesco Calzona as coach of Napoli. In the summer 2023, club's owner Aurelio De Laurentiis decided to appoint French coach Rudi Garcia, but things didn't work well and the former Al-Nassr manager was sacked in November, with Walter Mazzarri took the role as caretaker manager. Then, on Monday, Mazzarri was also sacked with Francesco Calzona replacing him until the end of the season. Calzona was the assistant coach of both Maurizio Sarri and Luciano Spalletti at Napoli before starting his coaching career in 2022 when he became the manager of the Slovakian national team. Napoli became the first team in the history of the Italian league to replace two managers the season after winning the title. 

 
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Team news

Napoli XI: Meret; Di Lorenzo, Juan Jesus, Rrahmani, Olivera; Anguissa, Lobotka, Cajuste; Politano, Osimhen, Kvaratskhelia.

Barcelona XI: Ter Stegen; Kounde, Araujo, Inigo Martinez, Cancelo; Frenkie De Jong, Christensen, Gundogan; Lamine Yamal, Lewandowski, Pedri.

Porto XI: Diogo Costa, Joao Mario, Pepe, Otavio, Wendell, Alan Varela, F. Conceicao, Pepe, Galeno, Evanilson.

Arsenal XI: Raya; White, Saliba, Gabriel, Kiwior; Rice, Odegaard; Saka, Trossard, Havertz, Martinelli. 

 
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Champions League is back! 

Hello and welcome from Francesco Porzio for the final day of the round of 16's first legs! Napoli will host FC Barcelona in Naples, with Arsenal's Mikel Arteta will visit Porto in Portugal. Follow all the action with us! 

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