Barcelona managed to get a good result against Napoli that leaves them in a good position going into the second leg. However, the game also left the feeling that this team remains below par in the Champions League, especially away from home.
Quique Setien surprised with a conservative lineup, with Rakitic and Vidal, that would have seen Valverde criticised, and not without reasons. Setien sent a message with his XI which Napoli took as backing down and took control of the game when Mertens opened the scoring.
For a few minutes, the ghosts of Roma and Liverpool returned, until Setien made amends, bringing on Arthur as the team improved, almost immediately equalising. Barça are a depleted team at the moment that are facing serious planning problems (as Busquets lamented at full time) across all areas of the side.
At the moment, the only plan is to survive, hang on to Messi and, if he can't deliver, hope that something happens in isolation. Whether it's to do with the way the team of playing, the planning or the lack of players, the diagnostic is clear: it's almost impossible to win the Champions League like this.
One of the biggest problems is not just the lack of players but the number of players below their level. The clearest case is Junior Firpo, who struggled in the Champions League this week and obliges the question, for the umpteenth time: would it not have been easier to stick with Cucurella?
Elsewhere, Rakitic complains when he does not play but is incapable of taking advantage of his chances. Umtiti showed against Napoli that he can't offer guarantees in a big game. Finally, Vidal lost his head late on for no reason to leave Barça short for the second leg.
As things stand, they could have just 13 first team players when Napoli come to Camp Nou (12 if Pique's injury is serious). That Barça have to take on such a big game with so few players is a symptom of the bad that has been done at this club in recent months.