Champions League Match Preview: Barcelona welcomes Paris Saint Germain to the Nou Camp
The mouth-watering clash is a game that immediately brings to mind their most recent meeting, the historic 6-1 turnaround by Barcelona after they had lost 4-0 at the Parc des Princes. The tie was voted the greatest Barça game of all time in a poll on the Barcelona website recently.
With both sides having gotten off to an uncharacteristically slow start this season, Barça and PSG have both hit some strong form lately. Barça now look fully adapted to new coach Ronald Koeman, while there has been a mid-season change of manager in Paris, with Mauricio Pochettino only into his second month in charge.
Both sides have key players sitting this one out through injury. Barça, however, is gradually welcoming players back from the treatment room, while PSG will be heading to Camp Nou without the likes of Angel di Maria and Neymar Jr.
Philippe Coutinho misses through a knee injury, Sergi Roberto (hamstring), Ansu Fati (meniscus), and Ronald Araújo (ankle), while Martin Braithwaite (adductor) is a doubt.
Gerard Piqué returned to training this week, but Ronald Koeman has the final say on whether he is ready to return to the squad list or not.
The biggest news from the PSG camp involves Brazilian superstar Neymar who will not be returning to his former home for the clash. He has been ruled out of the reunion clash as he suffers from an adductor injury while Argentine Angel Di Maria, scorer of several big goals against Barça over the years, is also out with thigh trouble.
Bernat (knee) and Dagba (thigh) also miss the game. There were doubts concerning another former Camp Nou star Rafinha (muscular), as well as Italian international Verratti (hip), but they have both been included in the squad.
Stats and facts heading into the match (Backed by Opta)
- Barcelona have knocked out Paris SG in each of their last three UEFA Champions League knock-out ties: 2012/13 quarter-finals (3-3 agg. away goals), 2014/15 quarter-finals (5-1 agg.), 2016/17 round of 16 (6-5 agg.). The only previous time Paris SG overcame the Catalans in a UCL knockout tie was in the 1994/95 quarter-finals (3-2 agg.).
- The last time Barcelona and Paris SG met was in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League round of 16. The Catalan side became the first – and so far only – side to qualify for the next round following a 4+ goals first-leg margin of defeat (0-4 first leg at Parc des Princes; 6-1 second leg at Camp Nou).
- Since 2012/13, only Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid have faced each other more often (10 times) than Barcelona and Paris SG (8) in the UEFA Champions League. Those eight games have produced 32 goals, an average of four per match.
- Only one French club has beaten Barcelona at Camp Nou – it was FC Metz in the first round of the Cup Winners Cup in October 1984 (4-1). No French side though has ever beaten FCB on their own patch in the UEFA Champions League (D2 L8).
- Barcelona will attempt to reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League for the 14th consecutive season, a record. The last time they were knocked out in the round of 16 was in 2006/07 against Liverpool (2-2 agg. away goals).
- Paris SG have reached the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League for the ninth consecutive season, matching the record for a French club set by Lyon between 2003/04 and 2011/12. They’ve made it past the round of 16 once in the last four seasons (2019/20).
- Barcelona have only lost one of their last 33 home games in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League (W25 D7), a 0-3 defeat against Bayern Munich in the semi-finals of the 2012/13 edition. This includes winning 13 of their last 15 k/o games at Camp Nou (D2), setting a goal difference of +33 over those 15 matches (41 goals for, 8 against).
- Paris SG’s only away win against a Spanish side in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League came eight years ago against Valencia (2-1, February 2013). They have lost the last three-such visits to Spain in the competition by an aggregate scoreline of 11-2.
- 44% of Barcelona’s goals in this season’s UEFA Champions League group stages came from set-piece (7 out of 16), the highest ratio among the 16 teams left in the competition.
- Barcelona forward Antoine Griezmann has more yellow cards (2) than goals or assists (1 goal) in his seven UEFA Champions League appearances at Camp Nou.
- Paris SG’s Neymar has scored as many goals at Camp Nou (16 goals in 20 games) as he has at the Parc des Princes (16 in 14) in the UEFA Champions League. He’s failed score in his last three knockout games in the competition – he’s never gone four in a row without a goal.
Barcelona go into this tie as favourites having only ever lost at home once to a French side, in the 1984–85 Cup Winners’ Cup. The Blaugranes are also looking to qualify for the Champions League quarter-finals for a record fourteenth consecutive season.
PSG would feel undone by the injury to two of their biggest stars but it provides an avenue for new ones to be born.
Verdict: Barcelona 2-2 Paris Saint Germain