Barcelona to face Napoli in Europa League play-offs


PARIS, France, Dec. 13Barcelona will face Napoli in the Europa League round of 16 after the Catalan giants crashed in the Champions League group stage for the first time since the 2000-01 season.

Xavi Hernandez’s Barca will continue their European campaign in the second tier competition, with the winner of their draw with Napoli qualifying for the last 16.

“Napoli is a great team with real European pedigree. They have a lot of experience, so we are aware that it will be very difficult, ”said Barca football director Mateu Alemany.

“Obviously the draw was not very generous with us, but that’s the way these competitions are. ”

The first leg will take place at the Camp Nou on February 17 with the return on February 24 at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium in Napoli. The late Argentine great has played for Barca and Napoli during his career.

Napoli and Barca met in the 2019/20 Champions League round of 16, with Barca advancing 4-2 on aggregate.

“I would say that our glass is completely full: Barcelona against Napoli and then Napoli against Barcelona will be two great matches at the level of the Champions League! tweeted Naples president Aurelio De Laurentiis.

The qualifying draw, introduced this season as part of a slimmed-down Europa League format, includes eight runners-up from the group stage and eight third-placed teams from the Champions League group stage.

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Borussia Dortmund were paired with Rangers in Monday’s draw, hosting the clubs’ first meeting since the 1999/2000 UEFA Cup.

Rangers coach Giovanni van Bronckhorst played for Rangers in this meeting alongside former USA international Claudio Reyna, whose son, Dortmund midfielder Gio, 19, was named after the Dutch.

Van Bronckhorst has been undefeated since taking office at Ibrox, winning five of six matches after Steven Gerrard left for Aston Villa.

Six-time record-winning Sevilla, which will host this season’s final on May 18, will face Dinamo Zagreb, Porto will play Lazio and RB Leipzig alongside Real Sociedad.

The eight group winners of the Europa League qualified directly for the round of 16. West Ham United, Monaco, Lyon and Bayer Leverkusen are among these teams.

The away goals rule has been removed from European competitions this season, so ties tied after 180 minutes will go to overtime and then penalties if necessary.

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