The final time Barcelona hosted Paris Saint-Germain, it was one of many biggest comebacks in Champions League historical past.
The identical groups will meet Tuesday on the Camp Nou for the primary time since Barcelona routed PSG 6-1 practically 4 years in the past.
“That sport will go down in historical past,” Barcelona ahead Ousmane Dembélé stated forward of the primary leg of this yr’s spherical of 16. “There shall be revenge within the air because of the media making an attempt to spice issues up. Nonetheless, we don’t discuss it within the squad as a result of we all know it’ll be a troublesome sport. We all know Paris, they’re the present Champions League runners-up. They’re among the many favorites to win the trophy.”
Issues have modified since that match in 2017, with PSG getting nearer and nearer to the title and Barcelona coming off certainly one of its worst seasons ever amid political turmoil and monetary struggles. Whereas PSG made it to the ultimate final season, Barcelona misplaced to Bayern Munich Eight-2 within the quarterfinals. The Catalan membership hasn’t reached the ultimate since 2015, when it gained its final European title.
Barcelona and PSG additionally met within the knockout spherical of the Champions League in 2013 and 2015, with the Spanish powerhouse popping out on prime every time. PSG final superior previous Barcelona within the 1995 quarterfinals. Solely Actual Madrid and Borussia Dortmund have confronted one another extra instances within the Champions League since 2013.
Neymar was with Barcelona throughout that historic 6-1 consequence within the final 16, scoring twice and main the membership to victory after a Four-Zero loss in Paris within the first leg. He’s now with PSG, however the Brazilian gained’t be enjoying on Tuesday due to an harm. PSG additionally gained’t have ahead Ángel Di Maria obtainable.
“I’m not going to lie, personally I feel it’s higher that a participant like Neymar gained’t be enjoying,” Barcelona defender Jordi Alba stated Monday. “It’s an necessary absence for them, like is Di María’s, who is a superb participant and helps quite a bit defensively and offensively.”
Barcelona additionally has some gamers sidelined, although it’s doubtless that captain Gerard Piqué will return to motion after a protracted interval nursing a knee harm. Others absences for Barcelona embrace Ronald Araújo, Philippe Coutinho and Sergi Roberto, who scored the sixth purpose 5 minutes into stoppage time to seal Barcelona’s comeback in 2017.
“For any staff it is very important have all of your gamers obtainable,” Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman stated. “Di María and Neymar are nice gamers however we even have individuals lacking who make us a stronger facet. Each groups have necessary gamers lacking.”
The assembly towards PSG comes at an ideal time for Barcelona. The staff has recovered from a poor begin to the season and has Messi in prime type, having scored 9 targets within the final 9 matches in all competitions.
“I place confidence in my staff and in my gamers. It’s clear that we now have improved, the outcomes have proven that,” stated Koeman, whose staff has gained seven of its final eight video games in all competitions, with its solely setback a 2-Zero loss at Sevilla within the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals final week.
Koeman stated all of the discuss a doable switch by Messi to PSG will not be affecting his staff. The Argentina nice needed to depart the membership on the finish of final season however had his request denied. His contract ends this season.
“I’m undecided what the intention is, I’m not going to get into that,” Koeman stated. “I’ve to arrange my gamers and Messi is a Barcelona participant. And I’ve lots of hope that he’ll stick with Barcelona.”
A Champions League title might assist persuade Messi to remain, however first Barcelona must get previous a well-known foe that wishes to show itself towards an previous rival.