Messi and Barcelona travel to Paris for the first leg of this quarter final tie in what should be a fascinating match. The teams are already familiar with each other having met twice in the group stages, with both teams claiming a victory that included a thrilling 3-2 win for the Parisian team. The Catalan giants found revenge in December however, winning 3-1 on their home turf.
Their previous meetings and the volume of goals involved will ensure that both managers will have done their homework, and this should mean it will be an intriguing tie and both star studded teams will have to be at their best if they are to advance.
Barcelona comfortably dispatched Man City 3-1 on aggregate in the last round, demonstrating their class in the process and Lionel Messi was at his best once again. A phenomenal performance from Joe Hart kept the scoreline respectable, but it was clear to see that Barcelona were a cut above their opposition and PSG will be wary of the threat they carry.
Advancing to the quarter finals was not quite as simple for PSG, who advanced on away goals after a thrilling 2-2 draw at Stamford Bridge following a 1-1 draw at home. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was given his marching orders after 30 minutes, but PSG showed grit by twice coming from behind to level the score, including Thiago Silver’s towering header in extra time that dumped Chelsea out of the competition in what was a remarkable match.
PSG’s impressive victory came at a cost however, as Ibrahimovic’s contentious red card will see him miss out on tonight’s game. Despite a few selection issues, Laurent Blanc will be optimistic after his side’s determination in the last round and their fine form. They will also be hungry to advance after crashing out at this stage of the competition on away goals the last 2 seasons, once to Chelsea and once to tonight’s visitors. This makes it the perfect opportunity to complete their revenge.
Barca meanwhile have not lifted the Champions League trophy since the 2010/2011 season, but they will fancy their chances this year with the unconvincing play of Real Madrid and a few upsets in the previous round. A trophyless campaign last season has made this a team hungry for success and they could achieve a historic quadruple this season, with Luis Enrique’s men currently sitting atop La Liga and Lionel Messi in fine form with 45 goals in 44 matches.
PSG could also be on course for a famous quadruple however, and this will be in the mind of each player as they kick off this evening in Paris. This, and the teams having already met twice in the group stages, sets the stage for what should be another thrilling evening of Champions League football.
In addition to Ibrahimovic serving his suspension, Laurent Blanc will also be without Marco Verratti and David Luiz. Thiago Motta is also a doubt with a thigh injury.
Barcelona have no new injury concerns, with long term absentees Thomas Vermaelen, Jodri Masip, Douglas and Rafinha all still out.