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Barcelona coach Quique Setien has said it will be unfair if his team have to play their Champions League second leg against Napoli at a neutral venue rather than Camp Nou.
UEFA announced on Wednesday that a ‘final eight’ knock-out tournament will be held in Lisbon in August for clubs through to the quarter-finals but it is still to be decided how to resolve the four incomplete ties in the last 16.
Barca drew 1-1 in their first leg away to Napoli in February before the coronavirus crisis meant they were unable to play the return leg at home. One possible solution would be to stage the outstanding second legs at neutral venues but Setien feels that would hand Napoli an advantage.
“The match should be played in our stadium because otherwise we are giving the advantage to Napoli, who played their game in their own stadium, with the support of their fans,” Setien said in a press conference on Thursday. “It will be a different thing if we have to play in a neutral venue and, on top of that, behind closed doors.”
While the resumption of the Champions League is still almost two months away, Barcelona’s domestic title challenge is approaching a crucial stage.
They sit five points ahead of Real Madrid, who play their game in hand against Valencia later on Thursday. Barca then visit third-placed Sevilla on Friday and face tough games against Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid and Villarreal in their next five.
“We face a team that is third and will make things difficult for us,” said Setien. “We will have to play at an extraordinary level.”
Lionel Messi has two goals and two assists in Barca’s two matches since the restart and he will hit 700 goals for club and country if he scores against Sevilla. “It would suit us if he achieves it because it is going to be a game where we need everything to win,” said Setien. “His numbers are the kind of numbers that only the chosen ones can reach. I hope he gets there and goes much further.”
Setien said Luis Suarez, who was able to recover from a knee injury during the three-month break, is not ready to play 90 minutes against Sevilla. “Even though is getting more and more minutes, the time from match to match is very little,” Setien said. “He is finding his rhythm but we’ll have to see. My understanding is he is not ready for 90 minutes and we will decide if he plays from the start or later in the match.”
Barcelona will also be without Frenkie de Jong, who has a calf strain, and Sergi Roberto, who has broken a rib. Jordi Alba is back from suspension.