Barcelona 2-1 Napoli: 5 men who were impressive for the Catalans
Barcelona traveled to the United States this week for a quick tour before the start of the new La Liga season. The Catalans were scheduled to play two back to back games against Napoli and the first one was played in Miami.
The La Liga Champions had started their preparation for the new season in style, winning both of their pre-season games so far. Napoli had been impressive themselves, also winning both their ties against Liverpool and Olympique Marseille in preseason. The Serie A side represented a different proposition for Ernesto Valverde, who was keen to assess his options ahead of the new season.
The Spaniard was still missing Lionel Messi, who was recovering from injury, but managed to name a competitive first eleven for the tie. New signing Neto continued in goal, while the back line consisted of Moussa Wague, Jean-Clair Todibo, Samuel Umtiti and new signing Junior Firpo. In the midfield, Valverde opted for Ivan Rakitic and Riqui Puig either side of Sergio Busquets. In attack, he selected Antoine Griezmann and Carles Perez alongside Luis Suarez.
Both teams started the game well, with the crowd at the Hard Rock Stadium, Miami, treated to exciting end to end football. The Catalans took the lead in the 38th minute through Sergio Buesquets, however, the Serie A side equalized through a Samuel Umtiti own goal just 4 minutes later. The first half ended with the score 1-1.
Both side rallied in the second half, but the winning goal appeared elusive. Barcelona grew in confidence as the game wore on and took the lead in the 79th minute through Rakitic. Napoli rallied until the end of the game, but Barcelona held on for a memorable win.
While the team looked in shape, Ernesto Valverde will be extra pleased with the performances of these 5 men, who impressed on the night.
#5 Frenkie de Jong
The Dutchman was impressive for Barcelona in his debut against Arsenal in the Joan Gamper Trophy. Frenkie de Jong was selected as the star of the match, but he started the game against Napoli from the bench, as Ernesto Valverde tried to ease his new signing into the team. However, with the scores still at 1-1, the Spaniard decided to ring in the changes and subbed de Jong on.
The Dutchman immediately brought a calmness into the middle, keeping up the momentum and helping Barcelona keep control of the midfield. His presence allowed Ivan Rakitic to be more adventurous, which laid the way for the winner.