Season-defining Napoli duel a huge opportunity - Barcelona's Xavi

How Pedri has become stuck in a 'vicious circle of doom' with injuries (1:09)

Luis Garcia speaks after Pedri was forced off in Barcelona's draw vs. Athletic Club in LaLiga. (1:09)

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández labelled Tuesday's meeting with Napoli the biggest game of the season so far as the Spanish champions target a first Champions League quarterfinal since 2020.

Victor Osimhen cancelled out Robert Lewandowski's opener in Italy in the first leg to leave the round-of-16 tie level going into the second leg at the Olympic Stadium.

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It's the first time Barça have been in the Champions League knockout rounds since 2021 after failing to make it out of the group stage in each of the previous two seasons, while their last quarterfinal appearance was an infamous 8-2 defeat against Bayern Munich four years ago.

"It's the most important game of the season so far," Xavi said in his pre-game news conference. "We are really up for it. It has been a while since we reached the quarterfinals, so it's a huge opportunity.

"There is a desire to do well and to compete against a great opponent. [Napoli] have not been in best form [this season] but the base is the same as the side that made them Italian champions last year. I hope it will be a magical night."

Xavi has already announced he will step down in the summer and, with Barça eight points behind LaLiga leaders Real Madrid and out of the Copa del Rey, Europe represents his final chance of silverware this season.

However, Xavi, who won LaLiga and the Spanish Supercopa as Barça coach last year, said the focus should be on getting the club back among Europe's elite, not him.

"I am not important [on Tuesday]," he added. "It's about the club and the team. I already have an expiry date. I will tell the players to have no fear.

"It's an opportunity to be among the best eight teams in Europe. We have to get back there, four years later."

Asked whether Barça, five-time winners of the Champions League, most recently in 2015, would be able to compete with the other quarterfinalists, Xavi said: "I see teams with different potential, but we can compete against any other team.

"We are in a difficult situation financially. We have not been able to do everything we wanted to do. We have had to adapt to these circumstances, but the club have made a huge effort since I've been here."

A lot has changed since the first leg. Napoli, under new manager Francesco Calzona who took charge of his first game against Barça, have beaten Sassuolo and Juventus and drawn with Torino.

Barça, meanwhile, have lost Frenkie de Jong and Pedri to injury, leaving them short in midfield with Gavi already out. Alejandro Balde, Marcos Alonso and Ferran Torres are also still sidelined.

In defence, Xavi must make a decision on whether to start the experienced Iñigo Martínez or go with 17-year-old Pau Cubarsí, who has been a regular in LaLiga but was left on the bench in Naples.

Since then, Cubarsí has continued to improve, with Xavi lauding a "captain's performance" in Friday's 1-0 win over Mallorca as Barça kept a third consecutive clean sheet.

Goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen has been impressed with Cubarsí.

"Speaking of the player on one hand, at his age, he is doing a spectacular job," Ter Stegen said in the news conference. "But also, on a personal level, he is very accessible person. He is always open to improve and work hard.

"He is at start of his career, so we all hope he continues like this. Imagine [how] much more he can improve. He is in spectacular form and we have to take advantage of that."

Ter Stegen also lamented Xavi's decision to resign at the end of the season, saying the players will give everything for him to go out on a high.

"Knowing him, I felt bad," the Germany international added of Xavi's announcement in January. "We [the players] are responsible for these decisions, but we follow the same line as always.

"He told us that this doesn't stop and we know that. We have to give our all, also for him. He is a great coach. He has taken us to these heights again that we struggled to reach in recent years.

"Obviously, for me, it's a shame he's going, and it's hard to accept he's leaving, as a player and a friend."