Surely, Barcelona were the hot favourites in Camp Nou. None could remember when did they lose a Champions League match at the home ground for the last time. Gennaro Gattuso’s Napoli came to Camp Nou with the least expectations but were determined that they would make it easier for Barca.

The start of Napoli was electrifying.

Dries Mertens clipped the woodwork inside two minutes and until Napoli went one goal down within nine minutes, the Barcelona backline was put under immense pressure – Napoli meant business.

In the ninth minute Clement Lenglet heading home unmarked from Ivan Rakitic’s inswinging corner, with the goal standing after a VAR check for a possible foul on Diego Demme.

Yet, it seemed fairly clear that the defender pushed Diego Demme in order to gain an advantage for his header.

Juan Andujar Oliver said to Raido Marca, “There is a push on Demme in the attempt to win the position [in the box], he gets him out the way.”

The goal should have been disallowed. Image Courtesy: Marca
The goal should have been disallowed. Image Courtesy: Marca

“The Turk [Cuneyt Cakir] is a referee who lets the play flow, but this time he should not have allowed Barcelona’s goal [to stand].”

When Barcelona were stranglehold by the Italians, immediate help was needed for them to get them back into the game and the VAR came to the rescue. Napoli were dented psychologically and a mediocre Barca took the advantage by scoring two goals in quick succession.

Even though the penalty against Napoli was dubious as well.

Thankfully, sanity prevailed among the officials that they did not allow the handball-goal of Lionel Messi to stay.

Lionel Messi’s second goal in the 29th minute, which was initially given before a VAR review led to it being ruled out for a handball.

“It hits the hand and is the only criterion to date,” said Andujar Oliver.

The Catalan media might raise a question about the penalty awarded to Napoli, but before creating noise they need to watch video footage minutely.

In the 48th minute, Ivan Rakitic arrived late and caught Dries Mertens in the Barcelona area, with the result being a Napoli penalty that Lorenzo Insigne converted.

“The contact is less than Koulibaly’s, but it’s true that Rakitic kicks him from behind,” said Andujar Oliver.

VAR hit Napoli badly, but they were not down and out.

In the second half, they came back strongly and exhibited a better temperament than the Catalan Club.

Napoli’s pressing with or without the ball totally kicked Barcelona out of the game and when Arek Milik Luzano was introduced, the Barca backline were caught on the back foot. Again, why Gattuso did not introduce them earlier in the second half cannot be understood.

Napoli would leave Spain displaying the right intent and brilliant football and they have left Barca thinking about their overall mediocrity.


Obviously, Bayern Munich would not spare them until and unless VAR interfere!

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