Champions League: PSG hosts Barcelona in the Round of 16
The Champions League showdown returns tonight with a number of matches set to play. However, the much awaited clash pits Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona in the first leg of their tie.
PSG comes into this fixture with their Spanish coach Unai Emery desperate to improve his awful personal record against the Catalans.
Emery took charge of the Paris giants last year as the successor of Laurent Blanc in order to drive PSG to the next level in European football after four consecutive quarter-final exits in the Champions League.
Perhaps finishing second in their group behind Arsenal dragged PSG to a tougher draw in the first knockout round and now they must outshine the Spanish heavyweights to keep their hopes of winning the much coveted title alive.
The second leg encounter will be at the Camp Nou next month where either of them will advance to the quarter finals stage.
Emery, the former Sevilla boss has met Barcelona 23 times in his coaching career in which he has only managed to win just once in La Liga last season. Indeed he has a poor record against the Catalans and another chance for redemption has come.
Meanwhile, PSG have been eliminated in the Champions League twice by Barcelona in recent campaigns. They lost in the quarter-finals in 2013 and again in 2015. All the same, there is a new-found confidence at the Parc des Princes after a smooth start to 2017 in which they have won 10 and registered 11 draws in all competitions
“We believe in ourselves and this game comes at a good time for us. If it had come at the start of the season I would have been more worried, but everything has changed,” Marco Verratti said after Friday’s 3-0 win at Bordeaux in Ligue 1.
The French champions have beaten Barcelona in the recent past having won 3-2 in the Champions League group stage in September 2014.They also have an impressive home record as they have just lost once at the Parc des Princes in the European competition for the last decade.
Thiago Motta will not feature in today’s clash due to suspension. Meanwhile,Angel Di Maria, Lucas Moura and Julian Draxler will be on bench.On the other hand, Javier Mascherano and Arda Turan are also sidelined but some good news for the Catalans states Rafinha could feature.