Barcelona vs Napoli: Napoli will meet with Barcelona at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami on Thursday for the first match between the two sides.The meeting will be a decisive preparation for both clubs, as there are less than two weeks left before the start of the Serie A and La Liga campaigns.
Barcelona face Napoli in the United States for the second time in three days on Saturday for their final match of pre-season.
The sides are set to face off at the 107,601-seater Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor to complete their preparations for the 2019-20 campaign.
Barca prevailed 2-1 at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium on Wednesday, with Ivan Rakitic’s late winner following Sergio Busquets’ opener and Samuel Umtiti’s own goal.
Date: Saturday, August 10
Time: 5 p.m. ET, 10 p.m. BST
Prediction: Barcelona 2-2 Napoli
Messi will surely now miss the season opener, a tough game at Athletic Bilbao. Now a big banana skin for Barça and Valverde in particular – he has little credit left with many fans (some whistles during his speech yesterday) so the last thing he needs is to lose opening gam
Despite Valverde’s concerns, though, Napoli are fine opponents for his side to take on as they prepare to start the defence of their title.
Lorenzo Insigne, Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon and Piotr Zielinski all started in Miami, and Napoli were the dominant side in the first half despite Barca taking the lead through Busquets.
The Italian side opened up Barca’s defence on numerous occasions, and the Catalan giants were indebted to new goalkeeper Neto for making a number of fine saves:
Even without Messi, Barca have a fine attack. Luis Suarez, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele all played on Wednesday, and Rakitic produced a brilliant finish to secure victory in the 79th minute.
Valverde will have concerns about his defence, though, which looked vulnerable on occasion last season as well.
The manager will be looking for a much-improved performance from his back line in Michigan as Barcelona complete their preparations for the new season.