Barça take on the French side in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final tie with a 3-1 aggregate lead following their victory in Paris last week in the first leg
Barça are just a possible 90 minutes away from a place in the semi-finals of this season’s Champions League. Standing between them and the last four are a Paris Saint-Germain side who will have to overcome a 3-1 deficit from the first leg if they are to upset the odds and take their place in Friday’s draw in Nyon, Switzerland.
The blaugranes trained on Monday for the final time before the second leg against the French league champions with Andrés Iniesta having received the medical all clear. The midfielder is now available for selection after missing Barça’s 2-0 win over Valencia on Saturday at Camp Nou in La Liga due to the back injury he picked up in the first leg against the Parisians. Jérémy Mathieu trained on his own in Barça’s final session before the second leg after picking up a knock against his former club on Saturday. However, coach Luis Enrique is confident that the Frenchman will be in the squad that he will name on the morning of the game. Dani Alves is available again after missing the win in Paris due to suspension.
PSG boss Laurent Blanc welcomes back talismanic striker and former blaugrana Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the squad after the Swede missed the first leg due to suspension. Influential midfielder Marco Verratti also comes back in with the Italian also having sat out the game in Paris for disciplinary reasons. Defender Serge Aurier, however, is still out as he serves the second of a three game ban. Ex-Barça midfielder Thiago Motta is also out due to injury as is captain Thiago Silva who limped off after just 20 minutes of the 3-1 defeat for his side in the Parc des Princes.
Barça boss Luis Enrique is confident about his side’s ability to make it to the last four based on his team’s performances already this season against Paris Saint-Germain: “I have a good feeling because we know our opponents well, we have met three times this season and in the three games we have seen more positives than negatives.” The Asturian also commented on the return of PSG’s Ibrahimovic and Verratti for the second leg: “In footballing terms is not an issue because PSG will keep playing with the same style, but it will add to their individual quality, since they have a lot of potential.”
Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc was honest about his side’s chances in the tie following on from their home defeat in the first leg: “I am a realist and we know that it will be very difficult, given that it we have had little time to prepare for the game. We don’t have anything to lose and we will simply play our usual game.”
Following wins in Parc des Princes in the first leg and against Valencia at the weekend at Camp Nou in the Spanish League, Barça have now won 11 of their last 12 matches in all competitions. The 2-0 victory over Nuno Santo’s team in La Liga saw the blaugranes maintain their two point lead over Real Madrid with a win that saw Leo Messi score his 400th goal in a Barça shirt in official competition and Luis Suárez his 12th goal in his last 12 matches for Luis Enrique’s team.
After the defeat in the first leg, Paris Saint-Germain racked up their third successive win in the league at the weekend with a 3-1 away victory over Nice. Argentinian Javier Pastore scored twice in the win which means that Laurent Blanc’s side are now in second place in Ligue 1, behind leaders Olympique Lyonnais on goal difference having played a game less.
In this season’s group stage Barça recorded a 3-1 victory at Camp Nou in the final round of fixtures in Group F, allowing Luis Enrique’s side the luxury of topping the group with the French champions qualifying as runners-up. The two sides met in the quarter-finals two seasons ago, Barça going through on away goals after drawing 2-2 in Paris and 1-1 at Camp Nou. The blaugranes have lost just once in their last 31 home games in the Champions League, winning eight and drawing one of their last nine.
Paris Saint-Germain are hoping to reach the semi-finals for the first time since they overcame FC Barcelona in the quarter-finals back in 1994/95, only to lose to AC Milan in the last four. The French club’s record in Spain reads W4 D2 L4, the last victory coming at Valencia in the last 16 tie two seasons ago when goals from Argentinian duo of Lavezzi and Pastore gave them a 2-1 win in Mestalla.
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Special pre-game video of the man who scored for Barça in the game’s first minute and was key to the victory
The blaugrana coach considers the tie against Paris Saint-Germain as not yet decided but remains confident they can make the last four
Luis Enrique could not have been clearer: he thinks that the tie against Paris Saint-Germain is far from over yet he is optimistic about his team’s chances of making the Champions League semi-final: “I have a good feeling because we know our opponents well, we have met three times this season and in the three games we have seen more positives than negatives.” The coach also highlighted the fact that the team is currently “at their best” physically and “PSG are in the same condition as we are.”
Below we reproduce Luis Enrique most important statements from Monday’s press conference at the Ciutat Esportiva:
“The result of the first leg is good but it is not definitive. We need to play really well to to get through the tie.”
“The idea is the same as before the first leg: to have the ball. That brings with it putting pressure on our rivals.” “We have to be prepared because there could be a game similar to the first leg or totally different.”
“If our opponents put us under pressure, we have the wherewithal to deal with it. Seeing up to which point our opponents put pressure on us is one of the most exciting aspects of the game.”
“We know that the fans will be there for us because it is a very attractive fixture and that is a guarantee. It’s makes us stronger.”
“Leo comes into the game in good condition, in great form. His 400 goals is a figure that is impossible to repeat.”
“I have only have praise for Luis Suárez’s work. Settling into a new city is always a handicap and every player needs time to adapt.”
“Iniesta is available and Mathieu has a knock but he also will be available.”
(The return of Ibrahimovic and Verratti) “In footballing terms is not an issue because PSG will keep playing with the same style, but it will add to their individual quality, since they have a lot of potential.”
“Perhaps we will change the system, but it won’t be a question of one player playing or not, but in function of if we can create problems for our rivals.”
Despite an excellent result in the first leg, the Uruguayan striker implores his teammates to keep up the intensity
The big 3–1 victory at the Parc des Princes gave a huge advantage to FC Barcelona. Luis Suárez, however, isn’t taking anything for granted: “We know the result is in our favour, but PSG have a lot of good players and we have to face the game at Camp Nou with the same intensity as last week.” Suárez was cautious: “The most dangerous thing is to think that our work is done.”
Suárez was the main protagonist in the first leg in Paris with two of Barça’s three goals. On his recent performance with Barça, Suarez admitted: “I feel I’m helping, and I am happy about that, but the most important thing is that the team is on the right path and keeps progressing until the end of season.”
Here are some of the highlights of what Suárez had to say:
“I always dreamed of playing in the Champions League. Every European match motivates me, even more with Barça. We have to continue on to get what all the players want, which is to win the competition.”
“Everyone knows about Ibrahimovic. He’s always been among the best five or six forwards in the world. We have to watch out for him.”
“I went a long time without playing at first and it took me a while, but I always felt good with my teammates and the city.”
“I don’t think I’m the best when I score, nor do I think I’m the worst when I make an error.”
“It’s a privilege to share the dressing room with [Messi and Neymar] and all three of us are aware that we must work for the benefit of the group.”
“I’m grateful to my teammates for the treatment I’ve received since I arrived and that gave me confidence. With hard work and sacrifice everything works out.”
“I’m very self-critical with myself and for a while I felt I wasn’t helping the team. But everyone gave me support and that gave me the strength to go forward.”
Training session before Champions League game against PSG
LIVE – First team training session before Champions League game against PSG