Carlo Ancelotti’s PSG face the unenviable task of attempting to conquer Barcelona at the Camp Nou this evening. After the pulsating 2-2 draw last Tuesday at the Parc des Princes, a match that was packed full of entertainment, incident and controversy, the hosts have the added comfort of away goals and the Parisians know they will have to be in superb form if they are to progress to the semi-finals.
Barcelona, who welcomed manager Tito Vilanova back to the dugout during the first leg after he was absent for two months receiving extensive medical treatment, are sweating on the fitness of the inspirational Lionel Messi who strained a hamstring during last week’s clash.
Ancelotti’s decision to opt for the experience of David Beckham in a deep-lying midfield role in the first leg drew strong criticism across several sections of the French press, and led to many suggesting that the Italian had been forced to start Beckham on the orders of PSG’s wealthy Qatari owners. Despite the decision being partially vindicated by a mostly cool and composed performance from Beckham, he may well return to the bench this evening in favour of the more youthful and energetic Marco Veratti. Alternatively, Ancelotti may choose to deploy them both with Matuidi missing out through suspension.
Tonight’s eagerly anticipated encounter will also see a return to Spain for striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The outspoken Swede endured a mostly miserable season at Barcelona in 2009, and after managing to score during an otherwise subdued performance in the first leg, he will be surely be keen to make an even greater impact in front of his former employers.
KICK-OFF: Wednesday, 7.45pm
PSG 2 (Ibrahimovic, Matuidi) Barcelona 2 (Messi, Xavi) Champions League, knock-out phase, April 2013
Barcelona 1 PSG 0 (Ronaldo), European Cup Winners Cup, May 1997
Barcelona midfielder Xavi has attempted (1050) and completed (930) the most passes in the Champions League this season. That gives him an impressive pass completion percentage of 89 per cent.
Barcelona have had 59 corners in this year’s tournament. Only Juventus and Bayern have been awarded more.
PSG striker Ibrahimovic has six assists in this season’s Champions League, more than any other player.
Ibrahimovic has been caught offside more times than any other play in this year’s tournament, having been flagged 16 times.
PSG have scored 18 goals inside the penalty area in the Champions League during the current campaign, more than any other team.
Barcelona to win: 1.36
PSG to win: 8.0
TV: Live on Sky Sports 2 at 7.45pm, highlights on Sky Sports 1 at 12.00am.