UEL: Barca’s return to Europe’s second-rate Competition for the first time since 2004 ends in draw

Having been knocked out of Europe’s premier Champion’s League competition last year, La Blaugrana are left with no choice than to play in a competition they last competed in 2004.

The Catalan giants endured another night of dismay at home against Italian based Napoli side in the Europa League on Thursday night.

With Ronald Araujo injured and so many attacking options at his disposal, Barca new coach Xavi Hernandez started line up different from the team that faced Espanyol over the weekend in La Liga.

The coach opted to start Nico Gonzalez in place of Sergio Busquets while giving Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang his first start. Also, Oscar Miguenza got a rare start at right back while Adama Traore and Ferran Torres served as right and left wingers respectively.

Despite starting the game in better footing, it was the team from Naples that drew the first blood after the Italians opened scoring. However, an Adama Traore cross was adjudged to have been handled after a VAR check and Ferran Torres stepped up to convert and equalise the scoreline to 1-1.

But, that was Ferran’s only contribution in the game as he could be outrightly blamed for the draw after being set up on four occasions and he ballooned it all just in front of the post. The Spanish forward is the culprit of Barca’s misadventure last night and one wonders if Manchester City will not be smiling after getting rid of him due to his wasteful nature in front of the post.

The introduction of Dembele, Luuk de Jong, Gavi, Sergio Busquets and Dest improved Barca’s game in the second half. But despite the many chances created, the team failed to convert.

The draw means Barca is leaving it open to the second leg where the Catalan giants may be at risk of getting knocked out despite the new UEFA rules on away goals this season.

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