Match preview: Paris Saint-Germain v FC Barcelona
Barcelona (CNA).- FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain meet for the third time in five seasons in the knock out stages of the UEFA Champions League with the first leg in the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on Tuesday at 8.45pm CET. In both 2013 and 2015, the teams met at the quarter-final stage, Barça emerging victorious in both ties. This season the clash comes in the last 16 and the blaugranes will looking to make it three in a row against the side now coached by Spaniard Unai Emery.“It will be an attractive game between two ambitious sides”, said Barça’s coach Luis Enrique, in his press conference ahead of Tuesday’s game.
Barça coach Luis Enrique named his coach after training on Sunday for the trip to France. The blaugranes will still be without Javier Mascherano and Arda Turan due to injury as well as Alexis Vidal. The latter will miss the rest of the season after dislocating an ankle in the 6-0 league win over Alavés at the weekend. Better news sees Rafinha return to the list for the first time since breaking his nose against Athletic in the league at the beginning of the month. Gerard Piqué returns to the squad after sitting out the trip to Alavés on Saturday and the 21 man list is completed by B team members Niliand Carles Aleñá. The list of players who have made the trip is as follows:
Ter Stegen, Cillessen, Masip, Piqué, Rakitic, Sergio, Denis Suárez, Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Rafinha, Alcácer, Jordi Alba, Digne, Sergi Roberto, André Gomes, Umtiti and Mathieu.
Paris Saint-Germain will be without veteran midfielder and former FC Barcelona player Thiago Motta who serves a one game ban in the first leg. Talented Argentine midfielder Javier Pastore has had an injury-hit season so far but he did train with the rest of his team-mates on Monday in Paris and Unai Emery has included him in the squad but experienced Brazilian defender Thiago Silva is ruled out. January signing Julian Draxler could be in line for a Champions League debut for the French club. The German midfielder has hit four goals in eight matches since signing from Wolfsburg.
Luis Enrique, in his press conference ahead of Tuesday’s game in the Parc des Princes, revealed: “We expect a tough tie against a daring PSG side who will put us under pressure in front of their own fans. It will be an attractive game between two ambitious sides.”
For his part PSG coach Unai Emery admitted: “It will be a great chance to beat one of Europe’s top sides, we have met Barça on several occasions and I think we have the ability to cause them problems.”
FC Barcelona have lost just once in their last 22 competitive fixtures, against Athletic Club in the Copa del Rey back at the beginning of January. Since then the blaugranes have won eight of 11 fixtures in all competitions, the most recent the 6-0 win in Mendizorroza against Alavés last weekend in the league. Luis Suárez is the man in form with ten goals in his last 11 appearances in a Barça shirt.
The French Champions have won 11 of 14 fixtures since the end of the group stage in December. Emery’s side have won their last four games in a row, in the process booking a place in the French League Cup final where they will meet AS Monaco on 1 April.
Barça met PSG in the final of the Cup Winners’ Cup back in 1997, a penalty from Ronaldo allowing the blaugranes to claim a record fourth win in the competition. FC Barcelona have visited Parc des Princes three times in recent years in the Champions League. A 2-2 draw in 2013 in the first leg of the quarter-final was followed by a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou, enough to send Barça into the semis.
Two years later the sides met twice in the same Champions League campaign in Paris. The French side claimed a 3-2 in the group stage but Barça had their revenge with a 3-1 win in the first leg of the quarter-final tie on their way to claiming the title in Berlin against Juventus in the final.