Two sides in my book had an excellent January transfer window, Juventus and FC Barcelona. How they needed that. Dumped out of the champions league in December, the whole club yearns for a return to the big leagues. The Europa League could offer an avenue back. All three major signings had a hand in getting the victory for the Catalans. Ferran Torres , the one that cost a huge amount, was guilty of missing chances at the end of the first leg set up Frenkie De Jong for 2-0 Barca. Adama Traore in my opinion wasn’t used properly at Wolves. Why I say so just look at where he was when he set up Jordi Alba for the first goal. Centrally. That shows the free role he is given at Barca. At Wolves he was just told to dribble, use his pace against the full back and hope to get the cross in. What a slow start from Napoli, desperately caught out of shape at the back on the quick break, very uncharacteristic. Koulibaly caught out of position for the first and failing to close down for the second goal. Positional awareness for a defender is important especially if one lacks pace.

So yeah, Barca are slowly going back to their old selves, dominating possession and incisive passing. But the old weaknesses in defense are refusing to go away. First one is the goalkeeper Ter Stergen whose suspect decision making came to a head when he came out to no man’s land to foul Osimhen on 20 minutes. Osimhen is a good striker but no way was he scoring from that angle. On review by VAR the penalty was given. In defense of the German keeper he didn’t touch the Nigerian, he pulled out of the challenge. Anyway Ter Stegen gave the ref a decision to make. The second goal for Napoli was equally a soft to concede. The thing of encouraging defenders to pass the box is a new philosophy in soccer and has been adopted by a number of teams. The obvious drawback is that if you lose the ball it almost certainly results in conceding. So the rule is you can pass in the box but the third and subsequent pass should be to a player outside the box. How great was it to see Aubameyang back amongst the goals after a season he has had. He is a top striker and one of the few strikers in world soccer who doesn’t need many chances to score. Barca through to the last 16 of the Europa League.