Barcelona failed to convert chances in the first leg of their Europa League knockout round playoff against Napoli on Thursday, resulting in a 1-1 draw. Napoli gained an early lead thanks to a Piotr Zielinski goal, which came before the Italian club’s counter-attack. Barcelona forward Ferran Torres equalized from the penalty spot in the 59th minute to restore parity. The fresh trio of Torres, Adama Traore, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang dominated the game, but the team squandered multiple chances to win it.
Winger Ousmane Dembele was introduced in the 65th minute and put up a great performance despite being met with boos. Dembele’s future at the club may look gloomy, but Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez is full of praise for the 24-year-old, who has faced backlash from supporters since contract discussions went down.
Despite the result, Xavi lauded Dembele for changing fans’ thoughts with his performance. “The audience was deafeningly deafeningly deafeningly deafen But, in the end, it was met with applause. We’ve whistled him, and that’s all there is to it. It’s all over. The good news is that the whistles have been replaced by applause “After the game, he stated.
“I’m disappointed because it irritates me that (Barcelona) missed so many (chances) since it’s a game that should at least be won,” he said. I believe the only thing we missed was the ability to convert opportunities. In the high press, we performed admirably. We created 20 chances after falling behind, six or seven of which were extremely apparent.”
“It was a full-fledged game. The end result should be a win, and a win by at least a couple of goals, to be fair. We performed admirably, but we are in the Europa League. This isn’t about emotions; it’s about outcomes, and the game was fantastic.”
Earlier, Xavi had encouraged fans not to boo Dembele after the France international was welcomed with boos upon his return to the side in Barcelona’s most recent victory over Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou. Dembele’s contract was slated to expire at the conclusion of the season, therefore the Catalans asked him to go during the January transfer window. However, the former Dortmund winger was unable to find a new club, forcing him to remain at Barcelona until the end of the current season.
“The crowd was ten out of ten, and their enthusiasm was palpable throughout the game. But I’d like them to back Ousmane as well. I’d request that they cease booing him “Xavi stated.