Paris Saint-Germain v Barcelona: 3 things that will shape the result

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Barcelona travel to Paris for the second time in this Champions League season to take on old foes Paris Saint-Germain.

Both teams know each other well having been drawn against each other in last season's competition too. 

With a semi-final spot to play for, the stakes couldn't be higher at this stage, and both sides will be looking to take a healthy advantage in the second leg.

Both Luis Enrique and Laurent Blanc have been under-fire at various points in the season, yet both managers now find their sides at the top of their respective tables and enjoying their best form of the campaign.

Let's take a look at three things that will shape the outcome of this Champions League game...

PSG's player crisis

At this stage of the campaign, you need your big players to be playing on the biggest stage.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has always fared well against his old club and PSG's talisman will be a huge miss in the first leg.

His sending off at Chelsea in the last round could prove very costly indeed as Barca seek to take advantage of Ibra's omission.

Edinson Cavani can perhaps fill in for the Swede but with Marco Verratti also suspended and both Thiago Motta and David Luiz injured and therefore also unavailable, the problems continue to mount up for Laurent Blanc.

Suarez to cause problems

Luis Suarez is playing the best football of his short Barcelona career and he will provide Thiago Silva with the sternest test at the back.

The Uruguayan's role could be the pivotal one in determining the outcome of the first leg.

Silva needs to decide whether to allow Suarez time and space or close him down quickly. Neither is preferable because even by sticking tight to him, Silva runs the risk of a cheeky ball in behind for Messi or Neymar to run onto.

In the previous games Silva has always tracked Messi, but if he does so here it leaves Suarez up against Marquinhos who, for all of the hype, is still inexperienced at this level. Suarez will certainly make the smaller Brazilian pay given the opportunity.

Long ball success?

Will we see Blanc revert to a more industrial way of playing? 

Quite possibly if he decides to utilise Suarez's international team mate Cavani in his more preferred role of centre-forward.

Barcelona still struggle against the "old-fashioned" number nines, even if Jeremy Mathieu's excellence in combating the high ball has gone some way to alleviating their Achilles heel.

A fit-again Thomas Vermaelen could also make a surprise appearance.

With Gerard Pique a fixture, for the first time in a long time Barca have three central defenders over six feet tall.

More than enough to take care of Cavani you feel.

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Lionel Messi
UEFA Champions League
Luis Suarez
Paris Saint-Germain

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