Xavi laments Barcelona's 'lack of maturity' after 1-1 draw with Napoli | Football News - Hindustan Times
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Xavi laments Barcelona's 'lack of maturity' after 'bittersweet' 1-1 draw with Napoli in Champions League

Feb 22, 2024 09:15 AM IST

Last year's Spanish and Italian champions, both struggling this season, played out a poor match in which both sides were toothless and lacking attacking flair.

Barcelona were unable to protect a 1-0 lead in their Champions League round of 16 clash against Italian champions Napoli at the Stadio Maradona. Robert Lewandowski gave them the lead at the stroke of the hour mark but Victor Osimhen scored the equaliser for Napoli in the 75th minute in a match that was largely low on quality and attacking intent.

Barca were playing their first Champions League knockout match for three years(AFP)
Barca were playing their first Champions League knockout match for three years(AFP)

Barcelona head coach Xavi lamented the fact that his side defender well but lacked the control needed to dominate the match. "It is a bittersweet feeling because we had the game in our hands," Xavi said in his post-game news conference. "We played well. We defended well; Napoli didn't create much, but in the moment [after taking the lead] we lacked control when we needed to dominate, show personality and be aggressive.

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“It's a shame. It was a good performance in general and I am proud of the image we have shown Europe. This is the Barca we want, but we lacked maturity to (manage the game),” he said.

Xavi, however, said that the match had more positives than negatives and Barcelona would stick to the way they played in future games. “Maybe physically they were stronger than us in individual duels, but playing this way we have good chance of going through and will win more than we lose,” he said.

Barca were playing their first Champions League knockout match for three years while Napoli were led by new coach Francesco Calzona with their Serie A title defence in tatters as they languish ninth in the domestic standings. Napoli were frustrated by Barca's high pressing, missing simple passes and gifting the ball to the visitors who also looked short of ideas in possession.

Ilkay Gundogan twice shot wide for Barca before Poland striker Lewandowski broke the deadlock in the 60th minute. He received a pass from Pedri just inside the box and made space to unleash a bullet strike into the bottom corner of the net. That woke Napoli up and Nigerian Osimhen, playing his first game since the Africa Cup of Nations, equalised 15 minutes later with a fine swivelling strike from inside the box to leave the tie evenly poised ahead of the return leg in Spain on March 12.

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