CL: Lionel Messi brilliant but Barcelona may still struggle

Updated: 10 August, 2020 08:47 IST | AFP | Barcelona

...despite beating Napoli 3-1 in pre-quarterfinal second leg on Saturday, Barcelona may struggle to beat Bayern Munich in the quarters on Friday

Messi's wonder goal! In the 23rd minute, Barcelona captain Lionel Messi (left) receives the ball in the right corner of Napoli's penalty area and weaves his way past three defenders before being thrown off balance by a tackle and nearly falling over. He however, picks himself up and just before two more defenders close in, he curls the ball into the far corner of goal. Pics/AFP
Messi's wonder goal! In the 23rd minute, Barcelona captain Lionel Messi (left) receives the ball in the right corner of Napoli's penalty area and weaves his way past three defenders before being thrown off balance by a tackle and nearly falling over. He however, picks himself up and just before two more defenders close in, he curls the ball into the far corner of goal. Pics/AFP

Lionel Messi scored a brilliant solo goal as Barcelona saw off Napoli on Saturday but they are likely to need something more special from their captain to beat Bayern Munich in the quarters.

Messi's weaving run and finish came between a Clement Lenglet header and a Luis Suarez penalty, also won by Messi, as Barca went 3-0 up in the first half at Camp Nou. But Lorenzo Insigne gave Napoli hope before the break and an unconvincing second period from Barcelona left them hanging on for a 3-1 win (4-2 aggregate). "A second goal would have given them a feeling of euphoria that can hurt you," said Barca coach Quique Setien.

Pain after gain
In winning the penalty, Messi took a heavy kick from Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly and needed treatment. "It was a heavy knock. It will have to be treated but I don't think there's a problem," said Setien.

Messi celebrates his goal against Napoli
Messi celebrates his goal against Napoli

After finishing five points behind Real Madrid in La Liga, Barca resumed in the Champions League with doubts over their form and the future of their coach. And though victory over Napoli eases the pressure, their performance was not great. Barcelona will have to improve significantly to match Bayern, who advanced after putting seven past Chelsea over two legs. "It'll be very complicated," said Setien about Friday's quarter-final. Messi has four goals in his last three games but Bayern have a trump card in Robert Lewandowski and seem to be a more complete team.

Napoli began by hitting the post as Dries Mertens mistimed a half-volley, only for Barca's Lenglet to head in off an Ivan Rakitic corner on nine minutes. Messi made it two after a fine run that saw him fall but get up and beat three Napoli defenders before curling it into the far corner.

VAR intervenes
Messi netted another, finishing off a delightful pass from Frenkie but the video assistant referee (VAR) ruled it out as the ball had feathered his arm. Then, Messi hurried defender Koulibaly in the penalty area and poked the ball away but was brought Messi down. Suarez scored off the penalty but Napoli made it 3-1 deep in first-half stoppage time, Insigne scoring from the spot after Rakitic barged into Mertens.

The quarter-finals

. Atalanta v PSG Wednesday, August 12
. Leipzig v Atletico Thursday, August 13
. Barcelona v Bayern Friday, August 14
. Man City v FC Lyon Saturday, August 15

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First Published: 10 August, 2020 07:14 IST

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