Paris Saint-Germain vs Barcelona: South American stars take centre stage in European battle

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Goals sure to be on the menu when Emery and Enrique's attacking philosophies are on show in Paris

Two heavyweights will clash in the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg when PSG host Barcelona but both sides are not having it all their own way in domestic league competition.

PSG trail Monaco at the summit of Ligue 1 and Barcelona are playing catchup to archrivals Real Madrid in the La Liga race despite having played two extra games.

The first leg of any two-legged knockout tie in the Champions League is often cagey, but Emery and Enrique possess attacking, purist philosophies and recent meetings between the sides have had goals in them. With the absences of Barca stalwart Javier Mascherano and PSG centre back Thiago Silva, perhaps tonight’s clash should be no different.

Team News

PSG

Ruled out: Silva, Krychowiak, Pastore

Suspended: Motta

Likely starting XI: Trapp; Aurier, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Kurzawa; Verratti, Matuidi; Lucas Moura, Draxler, Di Maria; Cavani

Barcelona

Ruled out: Aleix Vidal, Mascherano

Late fitness test: Rafinha

Likely starting XI: ter Stegen; Sergi Roberto, Piqué, Umtiti, Alba; Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta; Messi, Suárez, Neymar

Key Players

Edinson Cavani is enjoying a golden campaign with PSG, having netted 25 goals in 22 Ligue 1 starts and 6 goals in the Champions League group stage, making the Uruguayan the tournament’s second top scorer behind, predictably, Lionel Messi. Brazilian Lucas Moura seems to have finally grown into his surroundings in Paris and the PSG winger seems to be enjoying a permanent fixture in Unai Emery’s team.

It’s difficult to pick one isolated threat in Barcelona’s all-South American front 3, but Neymar will be out to prove a point against a few Brazilian compatriots at the club that so publicly chased his signature in the summer. With Javier Mascherano injured, 2010 World Cup winner Gerard Piqué’s experience at the back will be crucial against a talented PSG side also possessing numerous attacking weapons.

Key Match Stats

  • PSG are undefeated in their last 6 matches in the Champions League.
  • PSG have seen over 2.5 goals scored in their last 4 home matches against Barcelona.
  • There have been over 2.5 goals in 8 of PSG’s last 10 Champions League matches.
  • Barcelona have won the last 3 meetings between the sides in the Champions League.
  • Barcelona have scored at least 2 goals in 6 of their last 7 matches against PSG.
  • Barcelona have scored at least 2 goals in 5 of their last 6 Champions League matches.

Picks

PSG vs Barcelona is a box office encounter between teams who might view Europe as their likeliest route to silverware. ClickaBet offered odds of 3.47 for the draw and that that looks like smart money.

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