Today PSG face Catalan giants FC Barcelona in their second Champions League fixture of the season. Below are ten, key points that you should be aware of ahead of this potentially colossal match.
1. Laurent Blanc’s future MAY ride on tonight’s outcome
A lot has been made of a faltering PSG over the course of the last two weeks since their 1-1 draw with Ajax in their last Champions League outing, but manager Laurent Blanc is closer to possibly being sacked than ever before during his reign. Already being 5 points off the pace in Ligue 1, Laurent Blanc must avoid a big defeat at the Parc des Princes if he is to remain PSG’s manager.
2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is not playing
PSG’s undisputed talisman and star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss tonight’s game through a heel injury that he sustained against Rennes several days ago. Ezequiel Lavezzi and Thiago Silva also miss out, so Les Parisiens will be without their captain, vice-captain and “joker” (in several different respects). Isn’t Zlatan Ibrahimovic famous for going missing in big games though?
3. Edinson Cavani is not fully fit
A piece of news that has been suppressed by most parts of the French media in the past days, PSG’s alternative to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani, is in fact struggling with a knock to his knee. The player was treated for it several times last weekend during Les Parisiens’ encounter with Toulouse, and the Uruguayan will not be fully fit when the first whistle is blown tonight to signal the beginning of this mammoth encounter.
4. David Beckham will be at the Parc des Princes
That’s right, PSG’s former central midfielder David Beckham is expected in the VIP box to watch the spectacle unfold. Will his presence bring the Ligue 1 side the luck they need?
5. Laurent Blanc: “Barcelona are PSG’s masters.”
In as many words, PSG manager Laurent Blanc admitted in yesterday’s pre-match press conference that Barcelona are, in effect, PSG’s masters because the Spanish side has been implementing the same style of play that Les Parisien’s are trying to emulate for the best part of 30-40 years, according to the former French national coach. Blanc then went on to express his love for Barcelona. Does he know which team he’s managing?
6. Luis Enrique: “Ibra’s absence is bad for football.”
Now it is time for a quote from Laurent Blanc’s counterpart, Barcelona’s manager Luis Enrique who admitted that he believes that the spectacle is ever so slightly ruined by the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic tonight.
7. Jeremy Mathieu: “I wanted to test myself against him.”
And Luis Enrique is not the only Barcelona man disappointed by the big Swede’s absence. Frenchman and defender Jeremy Mathieu admitted to Canal + last night that he wanted to go up against Ibrahimovic to challenge himself. Between you and I, I think he’ll take the 3 points if it makes their task any easier.
8. Things could get Messi…
Lionel Messi has scored 11 goals in his last 12 Champions League appearances, so Marquinhos (who has been excellent this season) and David Luiz (who has been better than expected) must perform to the best of their ability.
9. History is on PSG’s side
The last time that PSG lost a European fixture at the Parc des Princes was all the way back in November 2006, when a plucky Hapoel Tel Aviv stunned the capital side in a Champions League group stage encounter, the Israeli side winning 2-4 on the night.
10. Barcelona’s European away form might shock you…
The Spanish outfit are renowned for conquering Europe in previous years, but the statistics suggest that playing away from home might well be their continental achilles heel. They have won just 4 of their last 13 Champions League away games.