Champions League: Barcelona coach Quique Setien wants UEFA to schedule return leg of last-16 tie against Napoli in Camp Nou
Barcelona drew 1-1 at Napoli at a full and rocking San Paolo stadium but the second leg was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the match is one of four ties that still need to be settled before the quarter-finals can begin.
Barcelona: Barcelona coach Quique Setien says UEFA should allow his side to play the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Napoli at the Camp Nou rather than on neutral ground in Lisbon in the interest of fairness.
Barca drew 1-1 at Napoli at a full and rocking San Paolo stadium but the second leg was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the match is one of four ties that still need to be settled before the quarter-finals can begin.
UEFA announced on Wednesday that it will hold a ‘final eight’ tournament in Lisbon in August in order to complete its flagship competition but has yet to decide where the remaining last-16 matches will take place.
Manchester City still need to host Real Madrid while Bayern Munich’s match with Chelsea and Olympique Lyonnais’ game with Juventus also need to be played, and UEFA says the venues will be finalised before the quarter-final draw on 10 July.
“I want to play the game in our stadium because if we don’t we give an advantage to our opponents who played the first leg in their stadium and with loads of supporters roaring them on,” Setien said ahead of Barca’s La Liga visit to Sevilla on Friday.
The coach also said he was against the idea of playing the ties from the last-eight onwards over one game.
“I think it’s worse and not just for Barca but for everyone. With two matches you can resolve an accident, now everything will be at stake,” he added.
“I’d prefer two legs but this is what UEFA has decided to do and we have to adapt.”
Barca have won their first two matches since La Liga returned from its three-month hiatus due to the pandemic but Setien conceded the match at Sevilla will be their sternest test yet.
“We’re playing the team that is third in the league, at their stadium and they are going to make life very difficult for us,” added the coach, who also confirmed Sergi Roberto and Frenkie de Jong will miss the match due to injuries.
“We’ll have to put in an excellent performance to win and if we do so it will be a huge boost for our confidence.”
The Catalans lead Real Madrid by five points although Real have a game in hand against Valencia on Thursday.
Messi joined Paris Saint-Germain in August after Barca decided not to renew the Argentinian’s contract due to LaLiga’s strict salary limits.
Barca sit ninth in the table ahead of a crunch week that includes league games against Valencia on Sunday and Real Madrid next weekend, with a Champions League match at home to Dynamo Kiev in between.
The email expressed the government’s position that “the improvement of competitions is possible through dialogue and always through the structures that already exist", said sources from the CSD.