Barcelona vs PSG: Match preview
Champions League: Can Paris Saint-Germain upset the odds & win at the Nou Camp?
Barcelona will enter the second leg at the Nou Camp with two precious away goals after a 2-2 draw in Paris.
Injuries to Javier Mascherano and Lionel Messi will be the sour points from what was a job well done from the Catalan giants against a resilient PSG. How Barcelona cope with or without Messi seems to be the key question in the second leg.
An injury time penalty from veteran Xavi seemed to have given Barcelona an invaluable away victory after Lionel Messi had earlier given them the lead thanks to a sumptuous pass from Dani Alves. However, they were pegged back moments later after Victor Valdes spilled Blaise Matuidi's low drive to ensure parity was restored.
Injury to Javier Mascherano will test their depth at the back, while talisman Lionel Messi's probable absence for the second leg will be a big blow. Given how comfortable the blaugrana were against PSG they will be confident of progression at home. Concerns at the back will be alleviated with the return of Eric Abidal, who has made a successful comeback to football after 14 months out after a liver transplant.
Alex Song and Sergio Busquets are also more than able to slot into central defence if Carles Puyol fails to be fit for the second leg, so Barca fans should not be too concerned with Mascherano's absence.
Against AC Milan in the round of 16, it was Messi who was at the forefront of Barcelona's revival scoring two exquisite goals, and whilst he will be missed, Barca are not chasing the game at the Nou Camp and therefore the likes of David Villa, Alexis Sanchez, Pedro and Cesc Fabregas should be able to provide the necessary firepower.
With PSG lacking experience in the Champions League as a team, especially in the deeper rounds, Barcelona should be able to negotiate their way into the last four but nothing is for certain given the 2-2 aggregate scoreline.
Les Parisiens will have been encouraged by their performance in the first leg despite the fact they were largely outplayed. Their fighting spirit and determination was visible throughout the match for which they should be commended, however they were lucky to score both their goals so they need to stay grounded going into the return leg.
They certainly rode their luck as Zlatan Ibrahimovic's equaliser was offside and Blaise Matuidi's injury time leveller was put down to the ineptitude of Victor Valdes, a goal that should never have been conceded. Carlo Ancelotti's men will be rank outsiders at Camp Nou, but players such as Tiago Silva, Alex, Maxwell, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Motta have a wealth of experience in the Champions League as does Ancelotti himself, so they are every chance to upset Barcelona.
Star man Ibrahimovic could potentially hold the key to progression with Barcelona's injury woes in defence and their lack of size defensively aside from Pique, could allow the big Swede to wreck havoc and open the game up for players such as Ezequiel Lavezzi, Javier Pastore, Jeremy Menez and Lucas.
The fact that PSG can go into the second leg knowing that they have to score, and knowing that goals will count for more at the Nou Camp, will mean their abundant quality in attack will have them well equipped. The biggest issue will be to somehow have a decent enough amount of possession to get them into an attacking rhythm.
Barcelona to be too strong but PSG to give them a scare. Barcelona 3-2 PSG
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