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How Did Xavi’s Barcelona Made It Into the UEFA Champions League Quarterfinals with Their 3-1 Victory Over SSC Napoli?

How Did Xavi’s Barcelona Made It Into the UEFA Champions League Quarterfinals with Their 3-1 Victory Over SSC Napoli?

After deciding four of the last 8 teams this time last midweek, the 2023/2024 UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg returned last night with another couple of games, one between Xavi’s Barcelona and the SSC Napoli side managed by Francesco Calzona at Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, as well as another between Arsenal and FC Porto at Emirates.

The first mentioned matchup certainly had more attention given as compared to the latter, since it involved two of the Europe’s Top Five Leagues winners in the 2022/2023 Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A Seasons. In this returning leg that had the aggregate score of 1-1, Xavi’s Barcelona needed no time to fully capitalise on their home advantage, reigning supreme in the 3-1 triumph after 90 minutes plus added time.

 

Two Quick Goals in the First Half and Lewandowski’s Late Effort Sealed the Deal for Xavi’s Barcelona

Xavi’s Barcelona off to a flying start in this UEFA Champions League Last 16 second leg with goals in quick succession in the 15th and 17th minutes, thanks to efforts from Fermín López and João Cancelo. Raphinha was slid a beautiful through ball by Cancelo, who then set up a shot for his teammate inside the penalty box. The ball would skip Robert Lewandowski, before López found the bottom left corner for the game opener and changed the aggregate score to 2-1 in Xavi’s Barcelona‘s favour.

Only moments after the opening goal in the UCL Round of 16 returning leg, Xavi’s Barcelona’s lead was doubled, this time Cancelo turned to become the goal scorer. A failed attacking play by the visiting SSC Napoli was countered and punished by the home team, as 16-year-old wonderkid Lamine Yamal was allowed to break away off a clearance. The youngster then covered a great distance in his sprint, followed by giving the ball away to Raphinha, whose solid shot was met by the post, only to have it fallen into the full-back on loan from three-time defending English Premier League champions Manchester City Cancelo. The Portuguese then slotted home Xavi’s Barcelona’s second goal of the evening.

The defending Italian champions did pull one back at the half-hour mark, courtesy of Kosovo national football team captain Amir Rrahmani. The 30-year-old centre-back had to thank Matteo Politano for managing to find him around the 12-yard area, and his goal meant SSC Napoli remained in contention of qualifying to the following phase of the European club football competition.

 

Xavi’s Barcelona Through to the UCL Quarterfinals for the First Time in the Spaniard’s Tenure

Both Xavi’s Barcelona and Napoli came into the next half with different aims, the home team trying to find another goal that would put the game beyond reach, whereas the outfit from Italian club football wanted to level things up in the overall cup tie. The final goal of the game did come when the clock ticked 83rd minute, and it was Xavi’s Barcelona that secured a spot in the UCL Last 8. Sergi Roberto and İlkay Gündoğan connected with each other via a superlative one-two, allowing the substitute to move forward and set up Xavi Barcelona’s no. 9 player in the end. Lewandowski went on to find the back of the net to cap off the tremendous team play.

Xavi’s Barcelona vs. Calzona’s Napoli was not the only UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second-leg game played yesterday. In the other UCL Last 16 returning leg clash, Arsenal managed to come back from their 1-0 aggregate shortage versus 30-time Portuguese Primeira Liga champions FC Porto to make things all square via Leandro Trossard’s first-half goal. Both teams could not find another goal in the remainder of the goal, meaning the UCL Last 8 decider has to be finalised through the penalty shootout, where David Raya showed his heroics by saving two spot kicks to send Arteta’s men to the next round. Check out the full match details here if case you have missed the live actions.

 

Post-Match Conference in the Aftermath of the Xavi’s Barcelona-Calzona’s Napoli Encounter

Xavi was a pleased manager after his Spanish La Liga side through to the UCL Last 8 for the first time in his Barcelona managerial career. He noted: “It’s a day to enjoy being an FC Barcelona fan. We put in a very complete performance. The team was very good with and without the ball, and we dominated many aspects of the game. I am happy with the players, they’ve given their all. That was one of our best games of the season. We can be proud. It’s a very proud day for everything concerning FC Barcelona because we are one of the best eight teams in Europe. This team has a lot of merit.”

Xavi did not forget to praise 17-year-old Pau Cubarsí for his Man-of-the-Match performance in his UEFA Champions League debut last night. “We ended the game very happy, with the supporters in top form, and we showed we are ready to compete in Europe. I am very proud, very satisfied and very happy. It’s one of my best moments as Barça coach. We are looking forward to the draw with joy, excitement and desire When Cubarsí has the ball, my heart rate doesn’t go up. I am calm. That’s priceless. He is great at bringing the ball out too. He creates attacking plays and it’s great to see him play, wonderful. I am very happy for him,” said the ex-midfield maestro.

The opposing manager also took the post-match conference and offered his verdicts on the differences between the first and seconds legs of this cup tie. “It was very different in the first leg, I had only got there the day before and it was difficult to organise something. Barcelona are a strong team, but we gave the ball away too cheaply and once we managed to fix a few of those issues, we were already 2-0 down. We were too spread out and too slow to react when losing the ball. The only excuse is that we did not have much time to work on these things in training, but it’s true that every time we lost the ball.”

Meanwhile in the AFC Champions League: Al-Ain Eliminate Ronaldo’s Al-Nassr 3-1 on Penalties in the AFC Champions League Quarterfinals

Steven Mosier

"Eat, breathe and sleep sports" is the life motto of mine. My professional athlete career ended way earlier than I thought, but the passion remains till the present, which is why I am here writing you all the sports news you crave! Also, I am a huge fan of the Premier League as well the NBA.

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