PSG eager to prove they belong in the Champions League when they play Valencia

French side hold 2-1 advantage from first leg

Leonardo's assertion that Paris St Germain are made for the Champions League but not for low-key Ligue 1 matches could backfire tonight if they do not show a dramatic improvement against Valencia in a last 16 second leg.

Sports director Leonardo explained PSG's embarrassing 1-0 league defeat at battling 10-man Stade Reims on Saturday by saying: "Maybe we have a team made for Europe, based on talent and passing quality, not for that kind of game."

PSG indeed looked a different side from the one who beat Valencia 2-1 away in the first leg and their chances of success in Wednesday's home game have been hurt by suspensions to striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic and midfielder Marco Verratti.

The Ligue l leaders' defeat by Reims was the second in a row against a lowly team after they were humbled 3-2 by Sochaux before back-to-back wins against arch rivals Olympique Marseille in the league and French Cup.

PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti blamed a bad pitch at Reims for the loss but there will be no excuses on Wednesday on their Parc des Princes turf, where 37-year-old David Beckham could make his first Champions League appearance since 2010 with AC Milan.

The former England captain, who signed a short-term deal with PSG in January, could start the match unless Ancelotti decides to field Clement Chantome or Thiago Motta returns from injury.

The Italian coach is likely to change his centre back pairing with captain Thiago Silva in the running to feature for the first time in more than seven weeks after recovering from a thigh problem.

The Brazilian's return would be a boost to PSG, who could have all but sealed their last-eight qualification in Valencia if they had made more of their domination before allowing the Spaniards to pull a goal back late on.

Valencia are missing usual centre backs Adil Rami and Ricardo Costa.

France international Rami, who netted their 90th-minute goal in the first leg, is still recovering from a muscle strain in his left thigh while the Portuguese defender, who has suffered a minor muscle problem, has been left out of the squad.

"We know how Paris play. I watched their last two games and they often rely on the counter attack, allowing the other team to have the ball and breaking very well," Valencia full back Jeremy Mathieu said.

"Valencia's tactics are to pressure as much as possible and spend as much time in the opponent's half as we can," added the Frenchman, who returned from a lengthy injury break at the weekend and could play alongside Victor Ruiz at centre half.

Valencia drew 2-2 at home to city rivals Levante on Saturday, conceding late to miss out on a victory that would have lifted them above Malaga into fourth in La Liga.

Paraguay forward Nelson Valdez reckons the European Cup is a good benchmark for Valencia.

"I think the PSG match will be crucial for us to discover what level we are at. There are only strong teams left in the Champions League now, so we have to show we belong here," he told UEFA's website (http://www.uefa.com).

"The best music I know is the Champions League anthem. Personally, it always gives me goose bumps, listening to that music and standing in line before the game - even sitting on the bench. It means I am at a good club and I am a part of this."

Probable teams:

Paris St Germain: 30-Salvatore Sirigu; 26-Christophe Jallet, 2-Thiago Silva, 13-Alex, 17-Maxwell; 29-Lucas, 32-David Beckham, 14-Blaise Matuidi, 27-Javier Pastore; 7-Jeremy Menez, 11-Ezequiel Lavezzi

Valencia: 13-Vicente Guaita; 12-Joao Pereira, 22-Jeremy Mathieu, 18-Victor Ruiz, 17-Andres Guardado; 24-Tino Costa, 21-Daniel Parejo; 8-Sofiane Feghouli, 10-Ever Banega, 7-Jonas; 9-Roberto Soldado

Reuters

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas