Rakitic lifts Barcelona over Napoli in Miami matchup
Napoli's Lorenzo Insigne (right) battles for the ball with Barcelona's Ivan Rachitic (left) during the matchup of European giants at Miami on Wednesday.
AFP, Miami :
Ivan Rakitic's goal in the 79th minute lifted Barcelona to a 2-1 victory over Napoli in a lively pre-season encounter at Hard Rock Stadium on Wednesday.
The Croatian midfielder struck a crisply driven effort after a first half own-goal from Samuel Umtiti had cancelled out Sergio Busquet's opener for the La Liga champions at the home of the NFL's Miami Dolphins.
This was the first leg of two matches between the European giants, with the second encounter taking place in Michigan on Saturday. With the Spanish and Italian leagues not starting until later this month, both clubs are still in pre-season mode, yet that didn't stop them serving up an interesting first 45 minutes. Antoine Griezmann, Barcelona's $134 million signing from Atletico Madrid, was lively from the start, linking up well with strike partner Luis Suarez.
Brazilian Philippe Coutinho, who has been linked with a move away from the Nou Camp and has traveled to Miami, wasn't in the match day squad, having been granted extra time off following his exertions at the Copa America last month.
Yet it was the Italians, guided by former Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti, who created the more clear cut openings, with Lorenzo Insigne causing the Barca backline plenty of problems along with Belgian forward Dries Mertens.