Barcelona director Deco explains he did not want Xavi to leave and outlines what makes 16-year-old Lamine Yamal ‘special’ ahead of the Champions League match with Napoli.

It kicks off at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona at 20.00 GMT.

You can follow all the build-up and action as it happens on the LIVEBLOG.

The second leg of this tie will be at Camp Nou on March 12 and the winners go through to the quarter-finals.

The former Stadio San Paolo was renamed in honour of Maradona, who died in November 2020, and El Pibe de Oro played for both these clubs during his glittering career.

“Diego was the greatest in history, when I was growing up, Diego was one of my idols. It is wonderful for our club to be back in this stadium, and he had a great history with both Napoli and Barcelona,” Deco told Sky Sport Italia.

Napoli are under their third coach of the season in Francesco Calzona, having fired Rudi Garcia in October and Walter Mazzarri on Monday.

Barcelona are also in a period of flux, as Xavi Hernandez announced he is leaving at the end of the season, but curiously the results have improved since he made that statement.

“I am sad that Xavi is leaving, as we wanted him to be part of the project going forward, but he had his reasons. I think the coach has this squad under control, we want to get through to the quarter-finals, but it will be difficult against a side that might not be going through their best form, but have the boost of a new coach.”

Lamine Yamal becomes the youngest ever player to start in the Champions League knockout rounds at 16 years and 223 days.

“He has something different, the quality of genial players, the mental capability to make the difference, but clearly we must also be delicate, as a player like this has to be protected.”

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