Aubameyang is “100% ready” to play in the first leg of Barcelona’s Europa League knockout stage play-off against Napoli, according to manager Xavi.
Since joining Barcelona on a free transfer from Arsenal, the striker has made two substitute appearances for the Catalan club, having last started a game on December 2nd.
This is Barcelona’s first European tie outside of the Champions League since the Uefa Cup in 2003-04.
“Aubameyang is a good player who trains hard,” Xavi stated.
“He’s a guy who can make an impact; he’s good in tight spaces and makes good runs into the area.”
“He’s put in some excellent efforts in recent years.” I’m really pleased with him; he contributes significantly to our group and is a consummate professional.”
For the first time since 2000, Barcelona has been relegated to the Europa League after failing to move from the Champions League group stage.
“It’s a chance,” Xavi explained. “The major goal for the season is to qualify for next year’s Champions League, and there are two ways to do that: finish in the top four in the league or win the Europa League.”
“This is a European competition, and we need the support of the fans.” We’re anticipating a fantastic tie and want to go as far as we can.”
The victors of the two-legged tie, which is a new stage of the competition this season, will advance to the last 16, where they will meet the winner of their Europa League group.
“The game will be a monument to Maradona,” Xavi added, referring to the late Diego Maradona, who played for both teams. The Stadio Diego Armando Maradona was renamed by Napoli.
Napoli only won three major trophies during Maradona’s seven years at the club, excluding Italian Cups: two Serie A crowns and a Uefa Cup.
This season, they are only two points behind the leaders in the Italian league.
“If we want to win the competition and donate a trophy to the city, we must be ready for everyone,” Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti stated. We have no control over who we play or when we play.
“We’ll play our game; we’re not going to employ a unique strategy just because it’s Barcelona.” We try to play as we are accustomed to. We understand that at times we will have to defend and at other times we will try to exploit the spaces.”