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Beleaguered Barcelona face tough Napoli assignment in Europa League

Barcelona coach Xavi will hope to get his team back on track. Picture: Josep LAGO/AFP

Barcelona coach Xavi will hope to get his team back on track. Picture: Josep LAGO/AFP

Published Dec 13, 2021


Paris - Barcelona will play Napoli in the Europa League knockout round play-off stage after the Catalan giants crashed out 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 tie with Napoli advancing to the last 16.

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

Borussia Dortmund were paired together with Rangers in Monday's draw, while record six-time winners Sevilla take on Dinamo Zagreb.

Porto will play Lazio and RB Leipzig were drawn alongside Real Sociedad. The first legs will take place on February 17 and the return matches on February 24.

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

"I'd say that our glass is completely full: Barcelona v Napoli and then Napoli v Barcelona will be two great matches at Champions League level!" tweeted Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis.

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

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* Meanwhile, Leicester City will meet Danish club Randers in the Europa Conference League knockout round playoffs, while Celtic were pitted against Norwegians Bodo/Glimt in Monday's draw.

Tottenham Hotspur could play Rapid Vienna depending on the outcome of their final group-stage game against Rennes, which was cancelled last week after a coronavirus outbreak in the Spurs squad.

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Uefa has said the match will not be rescheduled. Its disciplinary body will determine a result for the scrapped fixture.

Tottenham trail second-placed Vitesse Arnhem by three points in Group G but have the head-to-head advantage over the Dutch club.