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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Europa League: Rejuvenated Barcelona face acid test against Napoli

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Football lovers can look forward to the second leg matches of the round of 32 Knockout Playoff from the UEFA Europa League scheduled for Thursday 24 February 2022.

The return leg clashes on Thursday 24 February will decide the eight teams which advance into the round of 16 and join the eight group winners awaiting them: West Ham United, Bayer Leverkusen, Red Star Belgrade, Galatasaray, Eintracht Frankfurt, Spartak Moscow, Monaco and Olympique Lyon.

Spanish giants, FC Barcelona were held to a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou by Napoli in the first leg. After a shock return to Europa League competition since their last appearance in 2003/04, Barcelona are desperate to progress to the Round of 16 and they face a tough test in Naples.

Read Also: Europa League: Torres goal seals point for Barcelona against Napoli

Barcelona will be hoping that loan signing Adama Traore can inspire them to victory in Italy, with the former Wolverhampton Wanderers man recently praising manager Xavi.

“I’ll give 100 per cent and I have the same qualities as before, but I’ve grown as a player,” said Traore. “Anyone who has seen me in the academy knows how I play. I hope to learn from a great coach, who has won many things and is a legend here. I want to thank the trust he’s placed in me, and pay it back on the pitch.”

Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund will be hoping star forward Erling Haaland will be fit for the return leg of their clash with Rangers after they got whipped on home turf by the Scots. They face a tough hurdle of overturning the 2-4 deficit away from home.

Elsewhere, Atalanta face a tough trip to Greece to tackle Olympiakos with a 2-1 advantage from the first leg, while Real Sociedad will be hoping to maximise home advantage to overcome RB Leipzig at the Reale Arena, having managed to get a 2-2 draw in Germany.

Other key matches to watch out for Porto facing the challenge of taking on Lazio in Rome, and Sporting Braga will hope to see off the challenge of Moldovan travellers Sheriff.

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