The second game-week of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 was a night packed with action as four European giants clashed last night. While Bayern Munich's 3-0 rout of Chelsea in England grabbed all the attention, Napoli and FC Barcelona went head-to-head in what was a classic display of total football by both teams, with the 1-1 score-line justifying the performances by both clubs.
Barcelona kept a lot of possession in the early minutes of the game right until the end of half-time but it was the hosts, Napoli, who took their chances on the counter to disturb the visitors' defence.
After a flurry of some good chances by the Italian club, they finally opened the scoring in the 29th minute when Dries Mertens curled an effort from the edge of the box to beat Marc-Andre ter Stegen who didn't even move as the brilliant goal went in.
The Gli Azzurri went into half-time leading by one goal to nil but their happiness was short-lived as Antoine Griezmann equalised from a Nelson Semedo just 12 minutes after the game was restarted.
In the dying moments of the game, Arturo Vidal was sent off following two yellow cards and will consequently miss the reverse fixture at the Camp Nou, where Barcelona hold an advantage due to the crucial away goal.
Without much ado, let's take a look at the Barcelona player ratings from the game.
Also Read: Napoli 1-1 Barcelona: 5 Talking Points
Marc-Andre Ter Stegen: 7/10
The German goalkeeper had a great game last night as he saved Barca the blushes on numerous occasions especially denying ex-Real Madrid player Jose Callejon twice in both halves of the game.
It is arguable that Ter Stegen could have done better against the Mertens goal but the effort was too good for a befitting reply.
Nelson Semedo: 6/10
The 26-year-old full-back's run on the right wing proved to be the moment of magic for Barcelona as it set up Griezmann for his goal, but he was far from being a threat, especially in the first half of the game.
Gerard Pique: 6/10
The veteran Spanish defender made some crucial tackles to prevent the Napoli players from breaking into one-on-one situations against Ter Stegen and was an absolute brick wall for the Catalans.
Pique was the reason why Mertens ended up with only one goal last night. However, the centre-back limped off in injury time and was replaced by Clement Lenglet.
Samuel Umtiti: 6/10
While Pique was responsible for intercepting the Napoli attacks, Umtiti was appointed with a clear responsibility of moving the ball the forward from the defensive line towards the midfielders and the attackers, which the Frenchman did with great finesse.
Junior Firpo: 4/10
The 23-year-old Dominican full-back showed signs of inexperience throughout the game as he played a high line against a very good Napoli set-up and was exposed on many occasions. It will not be an overstatement to say that Jose Callejon literally played around with Firpo on the wings for the entire 74 minutes that he played.
Sergio Busquets: 8/10
The man of the match last night, Sergio Busquets maintained the spark in a monotonous Barca side throughout the game. It was the Spanish midfielder's ball that found Semedo on the right wing and the movement ended up in Barca getting their crucial away goal.
Ivan Rakitic: 4/10
The Croatian was hardly noticed in the entire game except for a long-range effort in the first half and this disabled Barca from bossing the midfield as they usually do. This was a poor performance from Rakitic, suggesting that he is far from his peak now.
Frenkie De Jong: 5/10
Over the past year, De Jong has been a revelation in the Champions League and those were the exact expectations from the Dutch midfielder last night, but he failed to impress with his creative abilities. Nonetheless, the former Ajax sensation was fairly good with his positioning for the entire 90 minutes.
Arturo Vidal: 4/10
Like Rakitic, Vidal too was quite unimpressive in the game, but showed signs of great movement in the second half, linking up well with Barca's midfielders. He was sent off in the 89th minute after a second yellow card, which put the Catalans in a difficult position in the last few minutes of the game.
Lionel Messi: 5/10
Whenever Lionel Messi plays, he is expected to produce magical moments in the game and anything otherwise is usually labelled average for the Argentine, and this was exactly the case last night.
Apart from a few runs toward the Napoli defence and a long-range low effort in the second half, Messi was neutralised by Gennaro Gattuso's team. The 32-year-old was also booked after a challenge on goal-keeper David Ospina.
Antoine Griezmann: 7/10
Probably the best-attacking player for Barcelona last night, Antoine Griezmann was a live wire for the entire game, trying to run through the defensive lines and finding spaces for the ball to be passed in.
The Frenchman was rewarded for his efforts as he tapped in a beautiful ball from Semedo, giving Barca the advantage of the away goal in this Round of 16 tie.
Arthur (substitute): 6/10
An upgrade over Rakitic in the second half, Arthur gave Barca the much-needed synchronisation in the middle of the park. Meanwhile, Ansu Fati and Clement Lenglet were brought on too late to have any kind of an impact on the fixture.
Napoli will visit the Nou Camp to play Barcelona for the second leg of their Champions League Round of 16 fixture.on March 18.
Published 26 Feb 2020, 15:08 IST