Barcelona’s UCL focus as they intensified preparations for Napoli showdown

Barcelona during training / FC Barcelona
Barcelona during training / FC Barcelona

Barcelona intensifies training sessions ahead of their Champions League match against Napoli.

Although Barcelona will fight for La Liga until the end, much of the excitement in the dressing room is focused on the Champions League. After several months of anticipation, the showdown against Napoli finally arrives an encounter that could shape, for better or for worse, the remainder of the season. According to Toni Juanmarti of SPORT, given this scenario and with Wednesday’s match at the San Paolo in mind, the coaching staff decided to intensify the workload of a couple of training sessions last week.

Following the painful draw against Granada, there was a light recovery session for the starters on Monday, with those who played fewer minutes exercising at a higher intensity. On the same day, as SPORT had previously reported, there was an extensive meeting between the squad and Xavi to analyze mistakes and ensure unity. The group had a day off on Tuesday but returned to training on Wednesday. On that day, the staff had prepared a session that was tougher and more intense than usual. Several players ended the training feeling notably fatigued. Not only that, but Thursday’s training also included several demanding exercises that left more than one player feeling tired.

Such an increase in effort was so palpable that several players approached the match against Celta on Saturday with a sense of muscular fatigue and not entirely fresh. That afternoon, Gündogan was a substitute by technical decision, and Araujo was substituted at halftime as a precaution due to feeling somewhat overloaded. The idea is that this extra workload can help the team in the coming weeks, starting with Wednesday’s clash at the San Paolo. Barcelona knows that Champions League matches always require an extra level of intensity, hence the desire to push the squad harder in the week leading up to the game.

In recent encounters such as the Spanish Supercopa final or the Copa del Rey match at San Mamés, Xavi’s men were seen to be outpaced in rhythm by Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, respectively. It remains to be seen who will win the physical battle at the San Paolo.