Image Source: (AFP) - AFP
A formidable task awaits PSG at Camp Nou tonight, as they look to overturn their 3-1 defeat in Paris last week.
This costly loss, where they were thoroughly outplayed by an excellent Barcelona team, means that they will have to score at least 3 goals tonight if they are to advance to the semi-finals. History is not on the Parisian team’s side, as it has been almost 2 years since Barcelona lost at home by more than 1 goal.
Barcelona will be confident that they can advance, and they will also fancy their chances of going all the way based on the performances of the other big teams left in the competition. Despite this, Luis Enrique will be cautious going into tonight’s fixture and particularly because of the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marco Verratti.
The return of these key players and the fact that they have nothing to lose should ensure that PSG come out attacking, but they will also have to defend much better than the 1st leg.
The PSG backline was far from convincing on their home turf, and they were ruthlessly punished by Barcelona and Luis Suarez, who scored a brace and twice nutmegged David Luiz. Neymar had opened the scoring before Suarez fired 2 past Sirigu, but PSG were dealt a lifeline when Gregory van der Wiel’s speculative effort deflected off Barcelona defender Jeremy Mathieu.
This own goal keeps the tie alive, and although PSG know their chances are slim, they will surely throw everything at Barcelona and an early goal could change the complexion of the tie. Barcelona will look to keep hold of the ball much like last week, and although they are aware of PSG’s threat they will also know that another goal would put the tie to bed.
This is now the 4th time these two teams have faced off in the competition this year, with both teams earning a victory in the group stages before Barca’s convincing victory last week. PSG will have to perform better than their last visit to Camp Nou on December 10th, where they fell 3-1 and subsequently lost out on top spot for Group F.
Although Barcelona have a job to do tonight, they will feel that they are within reaching distance of their 7th Champions League semi-final in 8 seasons. With Bayern Munich looking to overturn a shock 3-1 loss to Porto and Real Madrid struggling, Barcelona will feel that this could be their year to once again lift the trophy at the end of the campaign.
Laurent Blanc will be glad to have Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marco Verratti available following their suspension, but he will have to manage without Thiago Motta, Serge Aurier and captain Thiago Silver, who picked up a thigh strain in the 1st leg.
Andres Iniesta is available despite leaving the pitch on a stretcher last week, as is Dani Alves who missed the 1st leg due to suspension.