On Tuesday, starting at 9:00 p.m., at the Camp Nou, Barcelona and PSG will face each other in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16.
The game is surrounded by morbidity, above all, because of the directives of both teams. Barça has been trying to sign Neymar for years; and PSG has counterattacked by showing interest in taking Messi at the end of the season. In addition, in the minds of many the last elimination of PSG at the hands of Barça is still fresh, in the 2016-2017 season, when the Parisians beat the Catalans 4-0 at the Parc des Princes; and the Blaugranas achieved an epic comeback, in extremis, at the Camp Nou, winning 6-1.
The clashes between Barcelona and PSG have been part of the history of European football in the last decade. Barça have eliminated the Parisians in their last 3 Champions League qualifiers: in the quarter-finals of the 2012-2013 season; in the quarters of the 2014-2015; and in the eighths of 2016-2017. The French could only beat the Blaugranas in the 1994-1995 season quarterfinals.
The statistics are also favorable to Barcelona in terms of appearances in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, since Messi’s men have reached that round in the last 13 seasons, which constitutes a record in the maximum European club competition. The last culé elimination in the second round was in the 2006-2007 season, at the hands of Liverpool.
Barcelona comes to the meeting at a good time of play. Messi seems to have reached his maximum level and the youngsters are responding. Even so, Barça’s behavior in important matches or against high-level rivals raises many doubts. This season, Barcelona has lost to teams such as Sevilla, Juventus, Atlético de Madrid or Real Madrid; and he also lost the final of the Super Cup against Athletic.
The Blaugranas stand out in the immediate steal after loss, but they are weak defensively when the rival is able to move the ball near Ter Stegen’s area. In addition, the terrible state of form of Umtiti is possible that it causes the forced return of Piqué or Araújo to the starting eleven, to make a pair with Lenglet. If there is not at least one of the two centrals, Barça will suffer a lot in the cons, in the balls hanging in the area and in strategic situations.
PSG, meanwhile, will have two key casualties, those of Neymar Jr and Di María. Even so, the Parisian team has a very powerful eleven, in which Mbappé stands out, who will be seconded by Icari and Sarabia in the lead. Pochettino will try to get a good result in the field of his “eternal rival”, with the idea of arriving with the maximum options for the second leg, which will take place on March 10. Maybe then he can count on Neymar, since his abductor injury is going to keep him away from the playing fields for about 4 weeks.
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