"Would have been a mistake", "Absolute mid lineup" - Barcelona fans in mixed emotions after Xavi names starting XI against Napoli

Barcelona manager Xavier Hernandez looks on.
Barcelona manager Xavier Hernandez looks on.

Fans have reacted to Barcelona boss Xavi naming his starting XI for the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first-leg clash at Napoli on Wednesday (February 21).

The Blaugrana are coming off a 2-1 La Liga win at Celta Vigo at the weekend to close the gap on second-placed Girona (56) to two points after 25 games. Xavi's side, though, trail leaders Real Madrid by eight points.

The reigning La Liga champions narrowly topped their Champions League group, finishing ahead of second-placed Porto on better head-to-head record. After successive group-stage exits, Barca are playing their first knockout game in the competition since the legendary Lionel Messi left three years ago.

Fans, though, are not happy with the lineup named by Xavi for the clash at the reigning Serie A champions. One tweeted:

"The best XI we have available, I can’t complain, but Lamine should have rested vs Celta, you can’t be managing his minutes like this. Good to see Kounde and not Cubarsi, playing him today would have been a mistake. This is a must win game; hopefully, everyone brings their A game."

Another chimed in:

"Absolute mid lineup"

Here's a look at the top reactions on X:

The Blaugrana have had a torrid start to the year, losing 4-1 to Los Blancos in the Supercopa Espana final before getting knocked out by Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey quarterfinal.

A 5-3 home defeat in the league to Villarreal prompted manager Xavi to announce his departure at the end of the season.

How did Barcelona fare in their last Champions League game with Napoli?

FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona

Barcelona have had only two previous clashes with Napoli in the Champions League, with both meetings happening in the Round of 16 of the 2019-20 edition.

The Blaaugrana won the first leg 3-1 at home, with Clement Lenglet, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez among the scorers for the hosts, while Lorenzo Insigne pulled one back for Napoli. All four goals came in the first period, with the last two (Suarez, Insigne) coming in stoppage time from the spot.

In the return leg in Naples, Dries Mertens put Napoli ahead after 30 minutes to reduce the aggregate deficit to 3-2. Antoine Griezmann, though, struck for the visitiors in the 57th minute to seal a comfortable victory.

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Edited by Bhargav