Friday, April 10, 2020

Naples and Barcelona do not decide, Bayern Munich corrects Chelsea

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Barcelona made a shy first step towards qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Champions League after their draw in Naples (1-1), where Antoine Griezmann equalized, while Bayern Munich by Serge Gnabry proved intractable on the Chelsea pitch (3-0), Tuesday 25 February, in the round of 16 first leg.

  • Barcelona avoids the Neapolitan trap thanks to Griezmann

Antoine Griezmann celebrates his goal with Lionel Messi at the San Paolo stadium in Naples, February 25. GUGLIELMO MANGIAPANE / REUTERS

A flash of genius keeps Naples in the match, against Lionel Messi and his partners: Dries Mertens, long undesirable at Napoli this season, was responsible for lighting the San Paolo stadium with a perfect strike in the skylight at half hour of play. A nice revenge for the Belgian and his coach Gennaro Gattuso, who would have even turned into a perfect shot for the Italians without the equalization of Antoine Griezmann (57e), which occurred after an initial period of complete ineffectiveness for Quique Setién players.

For his premiere in the city of his illustrious Argentine elder Diego Maradona, Messi was indeed only too rarely dangerous, even making himself guilty of a blow in the chest of Neapolitan goalkeeper David Ospina, earning him a yellow card.

Despite this away goal, Barça is not so confident, as evidenced by this tense end of the match, between the injury outing of Gerard Piqué and the exclusion for two yellow cards of Arturo Vidal, synonymous with suspension in three weeks at Camp Nou. A suspension to add to that of Sergio Busquets, another valuable midfielder in the blaugrana system, deprived of the return due to an accumulation of warnings.

This draw still places the Catalans in a good position before the knockout round of the Champions League on March 18 at Camp Nou.

Read also Football: a Champions League in “Club of 5” mode
  • Bayern offers Chelsea scalp

On the Stamford Bridge in London, Serge Gnabry celebrates his goal against Chelsea on Tuesday, February 25.
On the Stamford Bridge in London, Serge Gnabry celebrates his goal against Chelsea on Tuesday, February 25. GLYN KIRK / AFP

Guardian Willy Caballero's parades and the crossbar over a head by Thomas Müller (35e) admittedly maintained the suspense for half a time, but Chelsea simply did not have the weapons to resist the Bavarian armada.

Robert Lewandowski, this season so compelling to score goal on goal, first left that role to Gnabry Tuesday night, preferring to secure the last pass. On two similar actions that occurred suddenly after the return from the locker room, the German and the Pole combined at full speed, for a perfect finish to the first (51e, 54e). And the second even finally obtained his personal goal at the end of the match (76e).

Gnabry loves London: the young winger (24) is six goals away this season in the English capital, after his quadruple against Tottenham in the group stage…

Olivier Giroud, established in the Champions League for the first time in almost two years after spending the first part of the season in the closet, could only see the damage.

Read also Champions League: Chelsea youth card

The only bad news of the evening for Hansi Flick, the Bavarian coach? Kingsley Coman's new injury, barely recuperating. The Frenchman stopped in the middle of the race, obviously the victim of a rather worrying muscular problem.

Chelsea will also be absent on the return… It will be the defensive midfielder Jorginho, stupidly warned for contestation and suspended on March 18 in Bavaria and defender Marcos Alonso, excluded at the end of the game.

A return match that Bayern will approach more calmly than all the other favorites of these eighths, starting with Paris SG, Liverpool and Tottenham, all three beaten in the first leg, and, therefore, Barça. Juventus Turin, traveling to Lyon on Wednesday in a match disrupted by concerns over the new coronavirus, and Real Madrid, which hosts Manchester City, are warned.

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