Barcelona coach Quique Setien complains they “didn’t have the sharpness or patience to break down the Napoli defensive wall,” and feels Arturo Vidal’s red card was harsh.
Antoine Griezmann met a Nelson Semedo assist to cancel out the Dries Mertens opener, but it was the only shot on target that the Catalan giants actually had in this Champions League Round of 16.
Arturo Vidal was sent off, while Sergio Busquets was booked, so both will be suspended for the second leg on March 18.
It did confirm a trend, as Barcelona have now failed to win their last six Champions League knockout stage trips to Italy, drawing two and losing four.
“It’s a good result, although we had to work really hard to create goal-scoring opportunities,” said the coach in his press conference after a 1-1 draw.
“Napoli found the net with their only real chance of the first half. We weren’t sharp enough to break through the defensive wall that Napoli erected.
“After the equaliser, they opened up a little and we were able to hurt them more. They played very well and it was not easy, so a score draw is fine going into the second leg.
“It was a difficult match and I congratulate my players on the result, but we must be sharper against defensive teams. It’s a matter of patience.
“We will have more options in the second leg, as it’s unlikely a team will be able to defend for that long at Camp Nou. We’ve got to think positive and cannot complain.”
Gerard Pique went off in stoppages after landing awkwardly on his ankle.
“We’ll calmly wait and see what the medics tell us.”
With Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele injured, Vidal was used in the trident attack with Griezmann and Lionel Messi.
“Many times, Messi moves into that area and whoever is there has to go very wide. It was difficult to break Napoli down or find the right passing line, as they were always in the way.
“Vidal was meant to help more in defence, because Mario Rui was playing well.”
Vidal saw red for two bookable offences in a few seconds, as he was about to get carded for a foul when he went head-to-head with Mario Rui.
“I didn’t see precisely what happened, but perhaps the referee was a bit harsh. A yellow card for the foul is one thing, but the second is too much. There are moments of tension that players who experience the game with his temperament can have. We’re losing an important player for the second leg, but will try to replace him in the best way.”
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