WILL DYER (@w2Dyer) shares his take on the almost impossible task set for Barcelona by PSG's 4-0 first leg win at the Parc des Princes.
Barcelona v Paris Saint-Germain | Wednesday 19:45 | BT Sport 1
Rewind two weeks. Paris Saint-Germain are preparing to face Barcelona for the seventh time in the Champions League since 2013, with this being the third time they've drawn them in the knockout stage in recent years. PSG had lost out on both previous occasions by aggregate scores of 3-3 (away goals rule) and 5-1.
What happened next was the biggest ridicule of Barcelona that we’ve seen in years. Unai Emery’s men raced into a 2-0 lead before half-time thanks to wonderful wing play from Angel di Maria and Julian Draxler. Les Rouge-et-Bleu then cemented the first leg with two more goals in the second-half.
The Blaugrana’s attack, the single most impressive collection of forwards ever seen in the game, was completely stifled. Barcelona mustered only one shot on-target all game and the majority of their 57% possession was in their own third.
Marco Verratti and Adrien Rabiot were the unsung stars of that game; breaking up Barca’s passing game before they could get in areas to pose any real threat. The latter doing that for almost 90 minutes on a yellow card after going into the book in the third minute.
The last two times Barca have hosted the Parisians they have won by a two-goal margin. This time they need to win 4-0 to force extra-time or by five goals if PSG score. It looks a nigh-on impossible task to me and the bookmakers agree as they’ve pushed Luis Enrique’s side out to 40/1 to lift the trophy.
That being said, Barcelona have won three of their last five La Liga games at the Camp Nou by five goals. If anyone could overcome such a deficit it would be Barcelona and they certainly have the firepower to do it. However, the problem is it’s not just any old riff-raff standing in their way, it's PSG.
Paris Saint-Germain haven’t lost any of their 65 Champions League matches this century by more than three goals and they have never lost by more than two to Barcelona in 10 meetings. All they need to do is go to Barcelona and keep it tight, but, that’s easier said than done.
Emery will be keen to get on the scoresheet as an away goal would all but seal the tie but PSG will be wary of over-committing and Barcelona have been fairly strong defensively this season; conceding just 0.8 goals per =-game in La Liga and shutting out all of Borussia Monchengladback, Manchester City and Celtic at the Camp Nou.
Interestingly too, if you look at PSG on their travels in the Champions League they have a history of failing to score against Europe’s elite. Since 2000, Paris have failed to bag away to Bayern Munich, Porto (twice), Chelsea (twice), Real Madrid, Man City and Barca. Five of those failings happening in the last five years.
Clean Sheet Win
If Barcelona are to have any chance of progressing they need to shut PSG down. The ‘Win To Nil’ is priced quite handsomely at 11/5 (188Bet) in my opinion. It’s a bet that came in last time Les Rouge-et-Bleus played the Catalans in their own backyard, despite the presence of Zlatan Ibrahimović that day.
Paris are a club that play with a swagger in front of their own fans but can be found wanting when on their travels. They are used to steamrollering Ligue 1 opposition but this is a different task.
I’m not suggesting for a minute that Barca will get this done but I would rather be siding with the Blaugrana here as PSG have more than enough wiggleroom to give up.
Barcelona v Paris Saint-Germain – Barcelona to win ‘to nil' (11/5 188Bet)