Lionel Messi will hope to better a barren record on Italian soil when Barcelona visit Napoli in the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday.

Quique Setien's first match in charge in the competition will see him tasked with improving Barca's fortunes on their travels in Europe, although Napoli have an enviable goalscoring record in front of their own fans.

Bayern Munich head to Chelsea in a repeat of the 2012 final that they lost on home soil, and goals certainly appear likely given the previous meetings between the pair.

However, the Bundesliga champions will need Robert Lewandowski to find his shooting boots given the striker has struggled in recent seasons when going beyond the group stages.

Here is the pick of the Opta facts ahead of two tantalising first legs...

Chelsea v Bayern Munich

17 - The four previous matches in all competitions between Chelsea and Bayern Munich have produced 17 goals, an average of 4.25 per game.

18 - Bayern won maximum points (18/18) and had a goal difference of +19 in the Champions League group stages this season, the best performance by a team in the group phase of the competition. However, none of the previous six teams to have won all their group games have subsequently lifted the trophy that same season.

1 - Chelsea have won only one of their past six Champions League games at Stamford Bridge (D4 L1), a 2-1 victory against Lille last December.

5 - Chelsea and Bayern scored the joint-most goals from set-pieces in this season's Champions League group stages (5), including three each from corners.

597 - Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski has scored 10 goals in this season's Champions League, only the second time he has reached double figures in the tournament after 2012-13 with Borussia Dortmund. However, he has failed to find the net in his past 597 minutes in the knockout stages of the tournament, his longest drought.

Napoli v Barcelona

2 - Napoli were eliminated in their two previous European Cup/Champions League two-legged ties with Spanish opposition, both times against Real Madrid: 3-1 on aggregate in 1987-88 (first round) and 6-2 in 2016-17 (round of 16).

0 - Barcelona's last away win against Italian opposition in the Champions League knockout stages came in April 2006, when they beat Milan 1-0, courtesy of a Ludovic Giuly goal; current Napoli boss Gennaro Gattuso played in that game for Milan. Since then, Barcelona have failed to win any of their five such away trips to Italy (D1 L4) and have failed to score in the past four.

20 - Napoli have only failed to score once in 20 Champions League games at the San Paolo, a goalless draw against Dynamo Kiev in November 2016. They are also unbeaten in their past seven home games in the competition (W5 D2).

1 - Barca have won only one of their past eight away games in the Champions League knockout phase (D2 L5), a 1-0 victory against Manchester United in April 2019. In those eight games, they have scored only two goals and conceded 17.

10 - Lionel Messi's total of two goals in five games in this season's Champions League group phase was his lowest for 10 years (since two goals in 2009-10). His only goal on Italian soil in the Champions League knockout stages was in the 2009 final against Manchester United at Rome's Stadio Olimpico – he has failed to find the net (or deliver an assist) in each of his subsequent five appearances.

Gerard Pique believes it is possible Lionel Messi could one day play for Napoli, but the Barcelona defender hopes the superstar retires at the LaLiga giants.

Messi and Barcelona face Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

It has led to fresh comparisons between Messi and Diego Maradona, an Argentina great who starred at Napoli.

Asked if Messi could emulate Maradona and sign for Napoli, Pique told a news conference: "You can never say never in football, but I guess that is complicated.

"You should ask him as he decides his future. I would like him to retire with us. I can't tell you more."

Messi has scored 23 goals in 28 games in all competitions for Barcelona this season.

Lorenzo Insigne had no interest in comparing Lionel Messi to Diego Maradona ahead of Napoli's clash with Barcelona, saying the latter was "divine for Neapolitans".

Messi and Barcelona make the trip to the Stadio San Paolo, where Maradona starred as a player in the 1980s and '90s, for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.

Like Maradona, Messi is considered among the best players of all-time, but Insigne preferred not to compare the Argentine duo.

"I had an interview and I said Messi is the best player in the world," he told a news conference.

"However, I do not want to compare him with Maradona, who is everything for us. I do not want to compare him.

"Maradona is divine for Neapolitans, with all respect for Messi who is the best right now."

Despite some off-field issues, Barca are top of LaLiga and will go into the last-16 tie as favourites.

But Insigne said Napoli simply needed to focus on themselves heading into the first leg.

"I do not know what kind of problem Barcelona have got. I read some things as other people did," he said.

"I think after four goals scored by Messi against Eibar ... they have no problems.

"We do not have to think about them. We have to think about ourselves. They have to play a great game from the beginning until the end. That's it."

Gerard Pique told Barcelona to remain undistracted ahead of facing Napoli amid the social media controversy at the club.

Barca earlier this month denied allegations made by Spanish radio network Cadena SER that they hired a company to damage the image of people associated with the club by spreading negative messages on social media platforms.

But Pique is keen to ensure his team are focused ahead of the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in Naples.

"We just try to be focused on our task as for this club in the last few years it has been massive what happens on the pitch," he told a news conference.

"Just the results have been holding back the entire club, so we know how important it is [to get results].

"The responsibility we have as Barcelona players to try to keep winning on the pitch. If not, there will be troubled water."

Despite the off-field controversy, Barca are two points clear atop LaLiga and go into their tie with Napoli as favourites.

But Pique warned his team the Serie A giants would lift for the last-16 tie.

"It is the first time Barca comes to Napoli to play at such a historic stadium. A football player always want to live new experiences, so coming here is one of them," he said.

"Regarding Napoli, they have improved a lot lately. They did not start well this season but have improved a lot lately. It will be a very difficult one.

"They have beaten Juventus and they beat Liverpool at the group stage. They raise their level against the big teams, so we will have to be very concentrated in order not to get badly surprised."

Quique Setien insists Barcelona have not spent much time talking about their Champions League exits at the hands of Liverpool and Roma ahead of their latest attempt to navigate the knockout stage.

Barca are in Italy ahead of facing Napoli in the first leg of their last-16 tie on Tuesday.

The clash comes after they infamously lost a three-goal first-leg lead in last season's semi-finals at Anfield, a year on from an away quarter-final collapse at the Stadio Olimpico.

While they fell to a Copa del Rey defeat against Athletic Bilbao this month, four straight LaLiga wins have Barca two points clear of Real Madrid at the top of the table, a run head coach Setien believes has his team battle-hardened.

A first Champions League success since 2015 is perhaps the most alluring prize still available for Barca and Setien, who is preparing to take charge of his first match in the competition.

"The reality is that very little has been said about what has happened, although surely everyone has it in mind," Setien said at his pre-match news conference when asked about Barca's recent European exits.

"Perhaps it is not comparable. Now we are carrying a very good dynamic and the morale is very positive. The team is in a good moment, like Napoli are.

"We have had tremendously hard matches in the league and lived through them, so I think the team is fine. 

"I trust we will continue in this dynamic, can maintain the level we have been giving and can keep it going for a long time."

Setien has told his players to expect Napoli to rise to the occasion under Gennaro Gattuso.

"It's a game that I think will be exciting – I hope that it goes down in history because we have played well and shown personality," added Setien.

"I always tell the players that we have to expect the best version of our opposition. Every team needs to give their all and this match will be no different. 

"I know what Napoli are capable of doing. In the group stage, they did very well up against some top-class sides. I'm sure they will produce an extraordinary performance.

"It's my first game in the Champions League game and that is a special motivation for me. 

"It's very exciting to start this stage of the Champions League in a stadium like Stadio San Paolo, full of passion, full of history." 

Gennaro Gattuso says Napoli will not have a cage to try and stop Lionel Messi when his side face Barcelona in the Champions League, as he urged his players to show no fear.

Napoli go into the last-16 tie, which starts with a home first leg on Tuesday, as clear underdogs to progress.

But Gattuso wants his team to show belief and, amid reports his players would try to isolate Messi from the rest of his team-mates with a unique man-marking strategy, insists there is only so much you can do to stop Barca's talisman.

"You need to stand up to Barcelona," head coach Gattuso said at his pre-match news conference.

"I want to see a lively team that plays without worry and with joy until the end. I want a Napoli side that are not afraid. 

"We haven't played great at the San Paolo in recent weeks, except against Juventus, so I want to see a team that knows how to battle. It is fair to have respect for the opponent, but not fear.

"I read that I would prepare a cage to stop Messi. It is not so, we need the collective to play the game and remember that there is not only Messi on the field.

"Lorenzo Insigne said that Messi is a great player. He does things that I see only those who play the Play Station do, he has incredible quality.

"And he's not only great at a footballing level. He is the greatest for how he has conducted his career. He's an example for kids to follow. He never says anything inappropriate.

"You can't stop Messi, but in these moments my players have to try. We are playing against Barcelona, it is not only Messi.

"It doesn't make sense to have a player man mark Messi but we will try some things in training and then we will see."

Referring to Napoli icon Diego Maradona, Gattuso added: "He was the god of football, I saw him in many videotapes, but never live.

"I know, however, the champion that Diego was, certainly one of the biggest in the world. 

"Right now, Messi is the one who comes closest and does some of the things he did. I'm sorry I didn't see him live, I missed something wonderful. 

"Barca have some important players missing, but Quique Setien is a great coach and with him they have returned to many of the things they did in the past. They win the ball back so quickly. We know it will take a great performance to win.

"Can Napoli win the Champions League? Never say never. I thank the team and Carlo Ancelotti for their work as I haven't done anything to get here, but now I am excited."

Italy prime minister Giuseppe Conte revealed all of Serie A's Week 26 fixtures, including the blockbuster showdown between Juventus and Inter, could be postponed due to coronavirus fears.

The outbreak of coronavirus in Italy forced four top-flight matches to be postponed over the weekend, including Sunday's clash between Scudetto hopefuls Inter and Sampdoria.

Italy's move came as part of preventative measures against the spread of the coronavirus, officially named COVID-19 which originated in China, after two people died and dozens more reportedly tested positive.

Now, upcoming fixtures across Italy's leagues are in doubt, with Serie A leaders Juve scheduled to host Inter in Turin on March 1.

"I don't think that in just one week we'd be able to slow down the contagion so much that we could resume sporting events," Conte told Rai.

"We are constantly monitoring the situation and will evaluate. We'll see the evolution of the contagion and evaluate postponing all next week's matches."

Juve are a point clear atop the table following Saturday's 2-1 victory away at bottom side SPAL.

Cristiano Ronaldo marked his 1,000th career appearance with a goal, scoring in an 11th consecutive top-flight match – matching a feat previously achieved by Gabriel Batistuta and Fabio Quagliarella.

In-form Lazio were also in action on Saturday and edged Genoa 3-2 to extend their unbeaten streak to 20 games, while Inter are six points off the pace with a game in hand.

Sergi Roberto will miss Barcelona's Champions League tie with Napoli and the Clasico against Real Madrid after injuring one of the adductor muscles in his right thigh.

The Spain international was an unused substitute as Barca thrashed Eibar 5-0 on Saturday but Roberto, who can play at right-back or in the centre of midfield, is not part of the squad for the last-16 first-leg fixture in Naples.

Barca confirmed Roberto will miss around three to four weeks of action via a statement on their official website, which means he will also miss a vital top-of-the-table clash at Real Madrid next weekend.

One of the quirkier additions on Barca's squad list for Napoli - albeit his name was accompanied by an asterisk - was Martin Braithwaite, who cannot play in the Champions League as he is not registered.

Denmark forward Braithwaite signed in a controversial deal from Leganes this week after Barca were granted permission to make an emergency transfer outside of the window.

Barca's victory over Eibar and Madrid's defeat at Levante on Saturday means Quique Setien's men sit top of LaLiga by two points. However, Roberto's injury is the latest to have limited Setien's options for upcoming fixture.

Gennaro Gattuso has confirmed Napoli could be without key defender Kalidou Koulibaly for next week's Champions League game against Barcelona.

Injuries have hampered the Senegal international this season and he has only played one Serie A match since the turn of the year.

Napoli head to Brescia on Friday before hosting Barca four days later in the first leg of their last-16 tie with the LaLiga champions.

And Gattuso, whose side have won five of their past six games in all competitions, is unsure whether Koulibaly will be available.

"We'll need to objectively see what he has," Gattuso told reporters on Thursday. "He has swelling, so we need to listen to how he feels. 

"Right now I have opted, together with the medical staff, to keep him sidelined for seven to 10 days.

"We will evaluate after that how he feels physically. He will tell us how he feels."

Napoli's improved form has lifted them to ninth in Serie A but they are 12 points behind fourth-placed Atalanta in the race for Champions League qualification.

Gattuso is staying focused on the trip to second-bottom Brescia - with Koulibaly not included in the Napoli squad - rather than allowing the looming Barca game to act as a distraction.

"I haven't heard anyone talk about Barcelona," Gattuso added. "We haven't prepared for Barcelona yet. We have prepared for the match against Brescia. We will think about Barcelona on Saturday after the analysis of the match against Brescia."

Napoli striker Fernando Llorente will miss the Brescia game due to flu.

LaLiga champions Barcelona are a club in crisis.

From public rows to allegations that say the current board were involved in hiring a PR firm to spread negative narratives about Barca legends, a claim the club have denied.

It has been a turbulent time at Camp Nou and MLS powerhouse LA Galaxy have looked to capitalise.

 

TOP STORY – GALAXY ENQUIRE ABOUT MESSI

LA Galaxy enquired about Barcelona captain Lionel Messi's interest in moving to the United States, according to Radio Continental.

Messi was involved in a public row with director of football Eric Abidal, raising doubts over his Barca future amid links to Manchester United, Manchester City, Inter and Paris Saint-Germain.

Galaxy head coach and former Boca Juniors boss Guillermo Barros Schelotto reportedly reached out to Messi's father to see if the six-time Ballon d'Or winner was open to swapping Barcelona for Los Angeles.

ROUND-UP

Paul Pogba is confident he will finally be granted an exit by Manchester United, reports the Evening Standard. Pogba – still recovering from an ankle injury – has been linked with a return to former club Juventus as well as LaLiga giants Real Madrid.

- Staying at Old Trafford and The Independent claims United are in advanced negotiations with former PSG technical director Antero Henrique. Ralf Rangnick is also reportedly being considered.

- RB Leipzig's head of sport Rangnick is still being targeted by Milan for the role as head coach, reports Calciomercato. However, the Italian club are split as Stefano Pioli leads a resurgence.

- According to Tuttosport, Serie A champions Juventus are interested in bringing Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus to Turin.

- France Football says Barca are eyeing Galatasaray's teenage sensation Mustafa Kapi. The 17-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season.

Chelsea have entered the race to sign in-demand Hellas Verona centre-back Marash Kumbulla, says Calciomercato. The 20-year-old Albania international is also wanted by Inter, Napoli, Liverpool, United and City.

Napoli could be without Elseid Hysaj when they take on Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with the right-back having suffered a sprained knee.

Albania international Hysaj went off with 10 minutes remaining in Napoli's 1-0 Serie A victory over Cagliari at the Sardegna Arena on Sunday.

Tests carried out on Monday showed the 26-year-old has sustained damage to the medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

Reports in Italy suggest Hysaj could be set for two weeks on the sidelines, which makes him a doubt for the visit of Barcelona next Tuesday.

Napoli face Brescia in Serie A on Friday and entertain Torino four days after taking on Barca at Stadio San Paolo.

The second leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final against Inter, in which they hold a 1-0 aggregate lead, is scheduled for March 5.

Pep Guardiola will consider his future at Manchester City after the club were hit with a two-season Champions League ban.

City were handed the sanction – and a €30million fine – by UEFA on Friday for "serious breaches" of Financial Fair Play regulations.

The Premier League club have denied wrongdoing and intend to appeal the verdict, but they could face personnel problems if unsuccessful.

 

TOP STORY – GUARDIOLA TO CONSIDER MAN CITY FUTURE AFTER EUROPEAN BAN

Guardiola will consider his future as City manager at season's end unless the verdict is overturned, according to The Telegraph.

The Catalan – who has been linked with Juventus – is contracted until 2021 and had suggested previously he intended to honour his deal.

ESPN reports Guardiola is worried about how the ban will impact his players but does claim the former Barcelona coach would be willing to remain as long as he, personally, is happy.

ROUND-UP

- With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still under some pressure at Old Trafford, Manchester United are favourites to land Massimiliano Allegri as manager, according to Sport Mediaset. Paris Saint-Germain, Milan and Roma are also reportedly interested in the former Juventus coach.

- Staying at Manchester United, the Manchester Evening News reports Leicester City star James Maddison wants a move to the Premier League giants. Maddison has been reported to be close to signing a contract extension at the King Power Stadium.

- With Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang coming out of contract at the end of next season, Arsenal may opt to sell the forward during the next transfer window. The Mirror reports Inter are hoping to sign Aubameyang, who has also been linked to Barcelona.

- Olivier Giroud is prepared to wait to make a decision on his future despite coming out of contract at season's end. The Telegraph reports the Chelsea striker has been offered a pre-contract by Lazio but is in no rush to make a decision after attracting interest from Tottenham in January.

- Inter and Napoli are set for a transfer battle. CalcioMercato reports Hellas Verona and Albania defender Marash Kumbulla is a target for both clubs, who will need to pay at least €20m for the 20-year-old.

Antonio Conte feels Inter's derby victory over Milan took away a lot of "nervous" energy as his side fell to a limp Coppa Italia semi-final first-leg loss at home to Napoli.

The Nerazzurri fought back to defeat their rivals 4-2 in a barnstorming Serie A encounter on Sunday.

It was a different story on this occasion, though, as Inter struggled to get out of second gear and succumbed to a 1-0 loss thanks to Fabian Ruiz's excellent second-half strike.

Speaking to Rai after the game, head coach Conte said: "The derby took away a lot of energy, especially nervous. 

"I made five changes from Sunday to bring in fresh legs, but Napoli beat Juventus, Lazio and Liverpool this season, so that means they've got quality there. 

"I'd say that, after Juventus, Napoli have the most impressive squad in Serie A.

"Gennaro Gattuso was smart to sit back, wait and go on the counter. We had the chances and it would've been a fair result if we had played out a draw.

"When you're up against defensive teams like this, you have to move the ball around faster and create spaces.

"We are at the start of this journey, so if some think we are at the same level as a side that was at the top for many years, then I say we're a long way off and have to use these defeats to improve."

Christian Eriksen was again only among the Inter substitutes, with Conte explaining the Denmark playmaker is still finding his best form after being in and out of Tottenham's team.

"He is certainly a player of quality, he needs to rediscover that intensity, seeing as he hasn't played much in the last six months," the ex-Italy boss said of Inter's January arrival.

Fabian Ruiz's fine effort earned Napoli a potentially crucial 1-0 victory over Inter in Wednesday's Coppa Italia semi-final first leg.

The Spain midfielder lit up an otherwise turgid San Siro affair with a finish right out of the top drawer shortly before the hour in Milan.

It proved the decisive moment against an Inter side – playing just three days on from beating Milan in the derby – lacking in creativity and Antonio Conte's men will have to show more in a huge Serie A clash with Lazio on Sunday.

Napoli have been well off the pace in the league but Gennaro Gattuso will take heart from a resolute defensive display that sets them up well for the return tie on March 5.

Dries Mertens scooped over from 20 yards during a drab opening, in which Lautaro Martinez should really have done better with a free header from Cristiano Biraghi's floated left-wing cross.

Daniele Padelli made a fine one-on-one stop when Mertens slipped in Giovanni Di Lorenzo, with Napoli's protests that the follow-up was handled by Stefan de Vrij going unheard.

Inter, as in the first half, attempted to play on the front foot without troubling David Ospina early in the second period – aside from a decent header from Romelu Lukaku that the keeper held with ease.

The game needed a flash of brilliance and Fabian delivered in the 57th minute, playing a neat one-two with Di Lorenzo before bending a fine left-footed effort past a despairing Padelli.

An equaliser almost arrived during a mad scramble 15 minutes from time where Lukaku and Christian Eriksen each nearly beat Ospina, who gratefully smothered the ball.

Eriksen  and Alexis Sanchez provided some impetus off the bench and fellow substitute Danilo D'Ambrosio almost prodded Lukaku's last-minute flick-on past Ospina but Inter paid the price for a largely toothless display.

What does it mean? Big few weeks for Inter on the horizon

Inter may be leading Serie A but before they play Napoli again the Nerazzurri face Lazio, Sampdoria and Juventus in the league and a Europa League last-32 double header with Ludogorets. Chasing this tie at the culmination of that run is not ideal. 

Fab by name...

In a game lacking in prolonged quality, it was left to Fabian to steal the headlines with his wonderful goal. It was reward for a disciplined performance in midfield.

'King' Lukaku and Martinez struggle

Lukaku declared "there is a new king in town" after scoring in Inter's derby beating of Milan. There is no denying the impact he has had at Inter but there was little regal about his performance on a frustrating evening. Martinez had a couple of decent opportunities and was also ineffective.

What's next?

Inter return to Serie A action with mouth-watering showdown at fellow title challengers Lazio on Sunday, the same day Napoli travel to Cagliari.

Premier League clubs are queuing up to sign Jadon Sancho.

But, Borussia Dortmund will not be rushed in parting with the England teenager.

Dortmund are reportedly determined to make the most of a strong Euro 2020 for the 19-year-old.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND WON'T RUSH SANCHO SALE

Borussia Dortmund will take their time over selling in-demand star Jadon Sancho amid links to Manchester United and Chelsea, reports 90min.

Sancho is a player in demand, with Premier League giants United and Chelsea interested in luring the 19-year-old back to England.

Bundesliga outfit Dortmund, however, are keen to maximise Sancho's transfer value after Euro 2020.

 

ROUND-UP

- Barcelona captain Lionel Messi wants to stay at Camp Nu despite his public row with sporting director Eric Abidal, according to Sky Sports News. Amid uncertainty over Messi's future with his contract due to expire in 2021, the six-time Ballon d'Or winner had been linked to Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Inter and United.

- Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane is unhappy with Gareth Bale's training, reports Marca. Bale – who was linked with a return to former club Tottenham during the January transfer window – and his intensity at training has reportedly angered Zidane.

- Real Sociedad striker Willian Jose is Barcelona's main target, says Marca. With Luis Suarez and Ousmane Dembele injured, LaLiga champions Barca are hoping to be granted permission to sign a Spain-based player to fill the void.

- Il Mattino claims United are at the front of the que to sign Napoli centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly. The defender has also been linked to Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and City.

Juventus are rushing to make a move for United star Paul Pogba, says Tuttosport. United are reportedly resigned to Pogba leaving and former club Juve are keen to bring the Frenchman back to Turin as Madrid also circle.

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