Football

FC Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain: Catalans aiming to defy all odds

The odds were tipped upside down only a month ago when the Spanish champions took on PSG. Barcelona were humbled 4-0 on the night, which later on went to be termed as the Valentine's Day massacre by the fans of French Champions. PSG travel to Spain to secure their quarterfinal spot against a resurgent Barcelona at the Camp Nou tonight. It promises to be an open contest with the Catalans expected to go all out in search of goals.

 

Brilliant Barcelona need a Miracle

The Catalans come into this match on the back of resounding wins against Celta Vigo and Sporting Gijon with a combined scoreline of 11-1. Either of the results will take the Catalans to the quarter-finals and the Camp Nou faithful will believe that their side can achieve this impossible mission. The new found belief is also due to Enrique's new 3-4-3 formation which gives the Catalans more control in their midfield. The formation changes to 3-3-1-3 when in possession with Messi occupying the hole. While out of possession it transforms to a 4-4-2 with one midfielder dropping into the right back slot. 

 

Barcelona's home form in Champions league this season has been exemplary. The Spanish champions won all three games so far against Man city (4-0), Celtic (7-0) and Borussia (4-0). Any of those results would be enough to take the tie to atleast extra time. Barcelona were the first team to overturn a 2-0 deficit from the first leg when an inspired Messi led the comeback against AC Milan only four years ago. They also have the experience of annihilating big teams by huge margins, one coming recently against Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu (4-0) last season. Records are to be broken and Barcelona will believe that they can overturn this insurmountable lead.

 

 

Team News:

Vidal and Mathieu set to miss out due to injuries. With Rafinha impressing in the recent weeks, he might get the nod ahead of Rakitic. It will be interesting to see if Enrique prefers the strength of Umtiti or the experience of Mascharenho. Jordi Alba could miss out if Enrique decides to play both. All sort of combinations are possible for this crucial game. Enrique will be having a tough time picking his eleven and he will hope his entire squad is ready for this intractable challenge.

 

Expected Lineup:

Barcelona (3-4-3): Ter Stegen, Umtiti, Pique, Alba, Rafinha, Roberto, Busquets, Iniesta, Messi, Suarez, Neymar.

 

 

PSG out to continue fairy tale 

PSG used to be the flat track bully. Season after season, the script was written for the French Champions to be eliminated by Europe's elite. This season however, the Parisien outfit have turned the tide with an impressive Emery at the helm. Les Parisiens are in pole position to progress especially given that Trapp has 4 clean sheets in his last five appearances for PSG. The defence will also be boosted by the presence of captain Thiago Silva who returns from injury. 

 

 

The interesting question will be the tactics of the visitors. Will they sit back and protect their unassailable lead or will they trust their game plan from the Paris game and seek am away goal? The French Champions lined up in a 4-3-3 formation but transformed it to 4-2-4 to press the Catalans high and it reaped big rewards. Will Emery gamble again? Thomas Meunier and Kurzawa were excellent in shutting down the wings from the Catalans and together with Silva and Marquinhos, they pose a strong challenge to MSN. 

 

Team News: 

Thiago Silva comes back from injury and will slot straight back into the starting eleven alongside Marquinhos. The impressive Kimpembe will have to make way for the Brazilian. Stars from the first leg, Rabiot and Di Maria, are nursing small problems but are expected to recover in time to start. Emery will be hoping that his troops can put in yet another commanding performance and stake claim as one of the favourites to lift the Champions League crown this season.

 

Expected Lineup:

PSG (4-3-3): Kevin Trapp, Meunier, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Kurzawa, Marco Verratti, Adrien Rabiot, Blaise Matuidi, Angel Di Maria, Julian Draxler, Edinson Cavani

 

Player to Watch out for 

Neymar (Barcelona):

The Brazilian superstar has been in terrific form and was the only Barcelona star to have played well in the first leg. He has rediscovered his goal scoring touch and will be a handful for the PSG defenders on the night. He is the most fouled player in La Liga and will be hoping to get on the nerves of the PSG defenders at Camp Nou tonight.

 

 

TV GUIDE:

Watch the pulsating contest between these two sides at 1:15 am, 9th March on Ten Network

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