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Bayern, Dortmund, Madrid, Atlético, PSG, Chelsea and Man United will be in the pot with Barça in the draw scheduled for this Friday
The first leg will be played on the 1st and 2nd of April and the second leg will be payed the following week
The final matches of the Champions League knock-out round were played this Wednesday evening. Borussia Dortmund and Olympiacos close out the list of teams that will be in the pot for Friday’s quarter-final draw in Nyon, Switzerland. In addition to FC Barcelona, the other teams that have qualified for this round of the competition are Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea.
- BAYERN MUNICH: The Champions League holders are perhaps the most fearsome side left in the competition. One step away from conquering the Bundesliga - they have a 23-point advantage over the second placed team - and in the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal, the men managed by Josep Guardiola are real title contenders in every competition they play in. They finished first in their group and they eliminated Arsenal by an aggregate score of 3-1 (0-2 and 1-1) in the knock-out round.
- BORUSSIA DORTMUND: In comparison to Bayern, things are going as well for last season's Champions League runner-up. Jürgen Klopp’s team are second in the Bundesliga and in the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal, and in the quarter-finals of the continental competition thanks to a nail-bitting first place finish in the group stage – a goal scored in the final minutes of the last group stage match took Dortmund from third to first place. In the knock-out round they defeated Zenit Saint Petersburg (2-4 and 1-2).
- REAL MADRID: Los Blancos are also contenders in every competition they’re in. FC Barcelona’s eternal rival qualified for the quarter-finals of the Champions League after finishing first in their group and crushing Schalke 04 in the knock-out round (1-6 and 3-1).
- ATLÉTICO MADRID: The Madrid-based team are having a breakout season this year. They reached the knock-out round by winning their group and then eliminated AC Milan in the next round thanks to victories at San Siro (0-1) and the Calderón (4-1). Cholo Simeone’s men are also alive in La Liga, where they are second, just three points behind the leaders.
- PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN: FC Barcelona’s quarter-final rival last season have reached this year’s quarter-final after finishing first in their group and easily defeating Bayer Leverkusen in the knock-out round (0-4 and 2-1). They are in control of Ligue 1 with an eight-point advantage over AS Monaco, who are in second place.
- CHELSEA: The team managed by José Mourinho are once again among the best teams in Europe. They finished first in their group and defeated Galatasaray in the knock-out round (1-1 and 2-0). They also lead the Premiership with a small point advantage, albeit they’ve played more games than their rivals.
- MANCHESTER UNITED: Out of the race for the Premier League, the team managed by David Moyes are putting their title hopes in Europe. They qualified for the quarter-finals of the Champions League after finishing first in their group and fighting back from a two-goal deficit in the knock-out stage against Olympiacos (2-0 and 3-0).
It’s worth noting that the first leg of the quarter-finals will be played on the 1st and 2nd of April and the second leg will be played the following week (7th and 8th of April).
Another look at FC Barcelona vs PSG
News, photos, videos and more about the game against the french team and the classification for sixth semi-final in a row
The Club's director of football says that "we knew how to suffer" in order to defeat Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals of the Champions League
Andoni Zubizarreta, FC Barcelona’s director of football, was very pleased with the team’s qualification to the semi-finals of the Champions League: “we knew how to suffer, we gathered ourselves and we found the spaces, and we were able to get the equaliser after the 0-1.” According to Zubizarreta, PSG were a very demanding side. “They are a team that play great football, they attack you from the outside and that’s what hurt us. But we, for better or for worse, are like those famed Manchester United or Bayern Munich teams, who were always a threat,” he said.
“We will go up against a great team”
He added: “it feels like it's a duel between the Spanish and German leagues and I really have no preference. I don’t care if we play first at home or away.” The Club’s director of football went on to say that Barça had worked “very hard in the tie in order to be present in the draw on Friday.”
Praise for Valdés and Messi
Lastly, Zubizarreta had special words of praise for Messi and Valdés. On the Argentine he said that “he has a sort of footballing power about him and he’s capable of intimidating opponents despite not being completely fit.” On Valdés, he said, “he’s a keeper that works diligently on his concentration and I have a feeling that he could have saved Pastore’s shot if it hadn’t deflected off Alves first.”
No other team have managed to equal FC Barcelona's feat of qualifying for the semi-final round of the European competition for six consecutive seasons
The last time Barça were eliminated before the penultimate round was in the 2006/07 season
It’s not easy to start a tradition, but FC Barcelona have managed to become a near permanent fixture in the semi-finals of the Champions League. This Wednesday, Tito Vilanova’s men qualified for the penultimate round of the European competition for the sixth consecutive time, a feat that no other team have managed to equal since the competition adopted it’s current format (1992/93).
In fact, the old record was broken last season, when Barça clinched its fifth consecutive semi-final berth. Juventus (from 1995 to 1999) and Real Madrid (from 1999 to 2003) made four straight semi-final appearances over a decade ago.
From Rijkaard to Vilanova
FC Barcelona continue to be the focal point of European football; champions twice over from the last four editions of the competition, the team have always been in the top four best clubs of the continent since the 2007/08 season. In that season, the last of Frank Rijkaard’s tenure on the Barça bench, Barça were eliminated in the semis by Manchester United.
With Josep Guardiola as the head man in Can Barça, the team continued to flourish on the continental stage as he led his men to four straight semi-final berths, and winning the title in 2009 and 2011. Now, with Tito Vilanova as the head manager, Barça continues to do well in the Champions League.
All details about the 2nd leg at Camp Nou: News, photos, videos...
All details about the 2nd leg at the Camp Nou: News, photos, videos...
19.50 - PSG's starting XI: Sirigu, Thiago Silva, Alex, Maxwell, Jallet, Verratti, Pastore, Motta, Lucas, Lavezzi and Ibrahimovic.
19.48 - FC Barcelona's starting XI: Valdés, Alves, Piqué, Fàbregas, Xavi, Villa, Iniesta, Sergio, Pedro, Jordi Alba and Adriano. Tello and Abidal won't suit up.
19.26 - The team's motor coach arrives to the Camp Nou.
18.52 - The players are on their way to the Camp Nou. Kick off is just under two hours away.
18.20 - The players enjoy their pre-match snack at the team hotel. In 30 minutes they will depart for the Camp Nou. It’s almost game time!
17.30 - There are approximately 695 accredited professionals at the Camp Nou, representing 191 media outlets, for tonight’s match. It’s worth noting that 88 professionals, representing 55 media outlets, are from France
16.00 - The availability of seats at the Camp Nou is dependent on how many are freed up through the Seient Lliure programme. Take a look at how many tickets are available for the Barça-PSG match.
14.05 - Delegates from both teams and the UEFA gather to share a meal before the game. The mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias, and the French ambassador to Spain, Jérôme Bonnafont are in attendance.
14:00 | PHOTOS | Concentration before the match
The first team stays in a hotel after last training session at Camp Nou
13.55 - PSG fans start to arrive in Barcelona. There will be approximately 2,400 of them at tonight's match. These are the access gates they will be using to enter the Camp Nou.
13.30 - The players return to the team hotel, where they will eat and rest before the match. A handful of fans greeted the players at the hotel to wish them well.
12.00 - The light training session begins at the Camp Nou. Yesterday the players trained at the Ciutat Esportiva.
11.35 - The 20 players named to the team meet at the Camp Nou for the team's final session ahead of tonight's match against PSG.
[+] FC Barcelona and PSG prepare for battle
1st leg: PSG-FCB (2-2)
The Argentine trained with his teammates ahead of tomorrow's Champions League match against PSG
The FC Barcelona players trained at the Ciutat Esportiva ahead of tomorrow’s Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain. One of the players that trained under Tito Vilanova’s orders was Leo Messi. Previously, during the pre-match press conference, Jordi Roura announced that Messi’s recovery “was positive.”
In addition to the Argentine, Adriano and Pedro, both of whom have yet to receive the medical all-clear to play, trained with the team. Barça B’s Deulofeu and Oier also trained with the group; they were not named to the team for tomorrow’s match, however.
After the session, the 20 players named to the team left for the team hotel. Leo Messi, Pedro and Adriano all made the cut while Dos Santos was dropped from the team. Barça will complete one final training session - Wednesday at noon at the Camp Nou - before the match against PSG.
Roura says that the team will be ambitious against PSG, and he notes that only victory would guarantee a spot in the semi-finals of the Champions League
On Messi, Adriano and Pedro's fitness, Barça's assistant manager says that "we have to wait and see how they feel and we especially have to see the results from their latest medical tests”
FC Barcelona will approach tomorrow’s match against PSG as if it were a final. “We have to approach the match with maximum intensity and maximum ambition. We can’t sit on our advantage. We need to start the match with the singular purpose of winning, that’s the only way we can guarantee ourselves a spot in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the sixth year in a row,” said Jordi Roura during this afternoon’s press conference at the Ciutat Esportiva.
Despite the fact that the Parisian team need to score at the Camp Nou to progress, the Catalan assistant manager doesn’t expect PSG to change their style of play from the away leg at the Parc des Princes: “we’re expecting to go up against a team that will cede the ball to us. We’re accustomed to playing these types of games, a lot of teams do this against us.”
Waiting on Messi, Adriano and Pedro
When asked if Messi, Adriano and Pedro will be available on Wednesday, Roura said, “we still have a few training sessions to evaluate their fitness. At the moment, the sensations are good but we need to wait and see how they feel and we especially have to see the results from their latest medical tests.” He added: “if any one of these players end up playing, it’s be because they are 100% able to do so.”
Roura went on to say that “in the end if we can’t call on the best player in the world, for us that’s a handicap.” He quickly added that “we have a very deep and talented roster. We’ll be just as ambitious [if Messi isn’t available].” According to the assistant manager, the match against Mallorca was a good prelude to tomorrow’s showdown with PSG: “the players that have to play in Messi’s position have shown that they can perform at a very high level.”
“It’s true that we have been a bit unlucky when it comes to closing out games. We’re aware of this problem and we’ve been working on it,” said Roura when asked about Barça’s numerous confirmed absences on defence. He added: “we’re hoping that the players that play on Wednesday have a very solid game on defence.”
The midfielder says that "we're feeling very good" despite missing players ahead of tomorrow's Champions League showdown with PSG
Andrés Iniesta, winner of three Champions League titles, is acutely aware of how important tomorrow’s Champions League quarter-final match against Paris Saint-Germain is: “we’re playing for a spot in the semi-finals of the Champions League. We’re going to play at home in front of our people and the result from the away leg isn’t bad, but we’ll be forced to play a nearly perfect game. We will be without some of our players, but that’s the situation we’re in. We’ll play against Paris Saint-Germain as if it were a final,” said the midfielder in the pre-match press conference this afternoon.
Tomorrow’s match, “different” than the one against Milan
When asked about the similarities between tomorrow’s match against PSG and the return leg of the Round of 16 against AC Milan, Iniesta said “we were in an extreme situation” against the Italian team, against PSG “it’s different.” He added: “we have to be intense from the start and we have to have the same ambition that we had against AC Milan. Our rivals suffer quite a bit when we start matches off like that, but the situation is different. Against Milan we just had to get the job done ... We have to be able to play with the time and the result of the match.”
Praise for PSG
The FC Barcelona midfielder went on to praise the Parisian side: “they reach your area very quickly, they don’t need to pass or elaborate their play; they have very technical players. We’re talking about a very complete and talented team, we have to keep this in mind.”
Many of the questions asked during the press conference were about whether or not Messi would feature for the Blaugrana tomorrow against PSG. “It all depends on how Messi is feeling and how well he’s recovered from his injury,” said Iniesta, who added, “if Messi can’t play we will all have to give just a little bit more of ourselves.”
Over recent years, Barça have shown that they are more than capable of overcoming injury crises which have affected them ahead of big European games.
With Puyol and Mascherano definitely out of Wednesday’s quarter final second leg game against PSG and with Messi, Pedro and Adriano all doubtful, Barça are in many ways on familiar territory – having overcome similar injury crises on a number of occasions in recent years – most notably the 2008/09 semi-final at Stamford Bridge, when Henry, Milito, Márquez, and Puyol were all ruled out.
2008/09: Iniesta’s wonder goal and four men missing
After the goalless draw in the first leg at the Camp Nou, Barça travelled to London to fight for a place in the Champions League Final without four key players - Henry, Milito and Márquez were all injured and Puyol was suspended. To add to their troubles, Éric Abidal was shown a red card with more than 20 minutes to go, as Chelsea sniffed the chance of a win. As all Barça fans surely remember, it was Iniesta though, who was the hero at the death, with his wonderful winner. In the final in Rome, Barça was again without Milito and Marquez, whilst Abidal and Alves were both suspended.
2009/10: Piqué and Puyol miss out against Arsenal
In the 2009/10 season quarter finals, Barça went into the second leg against The Gunners after a 2-2 draw in London, with both their first choice central defenders missing. Pique and Puyol were both suspended and Ibrahimovic was also out injured. As so often, Messi showed up for the big occasion with all four goals, as Barça brushed aside Arsene Wenger's side 4-1. In the semi-finals that year, the team came agonisingly close to the Madrid final, going down to Inter Milan in a second leg game at the Camp Nou for which Puyol was suspended and Abidal and Iniesta injured.
2010/11: Once again Piqué and Puyol out against Arsenal
Just a year after their meeting in the quarter finals, Barça and Arsenal were again drawn to play, but this time in the Last 16 and once again Puyol – injured- and Piqué – suspended- both missed out. Coming back from their 2-1 defeat in England, Messi was again decisive, bagging two in the 3-1 win at the Camp Nou, with Xavi getting the other at the start of a knock out stage that saw them go all the way to victory at Wembley.
A repeat of any but one of the seven results Barça have achieved against French teams at the Camp Nou on Wednesday would be enough to see them through to the Champions League semi-finals.
History is on Barça’s side this Wednesday if we look at previous results against French teams at the Camp Nou, with six of the seven games ending in results that if repeated would see Barça through to the Champions League semi-finals.
FCB 2-0 Niza. UEFA Cup. 1973/74
Goals from Sotil and Díaz gave Barça a win that wasn’t quite enough after losing 3-0 in the first leg in France.FCB 1-4
Metz. Cup Winners' Cup.1984/85
The only result that if repeated would see Barça lose the tie against PSG. Despite winning 2-4 in France, in the return game on October 3rd, the team suffered a painful home defeat.
FCB 2-0 Mònaco. Champions League.1993/94
Two goals from Begiristain save Barça a win in the Group stage in the 93-94 competition which Barça ended up as runners up.
FCB 1-1 PSG. Champions League. 1994/95
A second half goal from Weah equalised Korneiev’s opener and Barça were eliminated after losing 2-1 in the second leg in Paris.
FCB 2-0 Lyon. Champions League. 2001/02
Kluivert and Rivaldo, from the penalty spot, gave Barça the win in the 2001/02 season’s Group Stage, with a 2-3 win following in the return game in France.
FCB 3-0 Lyon. Champions League. 2007/08
Once more, Barça were drawn in a group with Lyon and once again they won – Rijkaard’s side brushing aside the French team in the competition’s opening game.
FCB 5-2 Lyon. Champions League. 2008/09
After a 1-1 draw in the first leg in France, Henry (2), Messi, Eto’o and Keita saw Barça through to the quarter finals.
The squad turned their attention to Wednesday’s Champions League clash in training this morning
After Saturday night’s big win, Barça’s focus has turned completely to Wednesday’s game against PSG. As usual after a game, the players who figured against Mallorca did some light recovery work, whilst the rest of the squad – including Adriano and Pedro – had a more intense session. It’s the third day that the two, who have still yet to be given the medical okay to play, have trained with the rest of the players.
Oier, Masip and Deulofeu from Barça B also joined in the session, whilst the injured players continued to work on their recoveries.
Almost half of Barça's 500 international matches, 242, were played before the creation of the European Cup, which is now known as the Champions League
FC Barcelona have played a total of 500 international matches in its history. This Tuesday’s match, against Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes, saw the Blaugrana reach the historic mark of 500 international games. From the first match, which was played on July 26 of 1949 against Stade Reims (Latin Cup), to the last, Barça have won 279 matches, tied 114 and lost 107.
988 goals scored, 504 conceded
FC Barcelona have scored a total of 988 goals (1.98 per game) and conceded 504 (1.01 per game) in international matches. The most remembered goals are probably the ones scored by Koeman in Wembley (1992), Belletti and Eto’o’s in Paris (2006), Eto’o and Messi’s in Rome (2009) and Pedro, Messi and Villa’s in Wembley (2011), all of them in Champions League finals.
The Blaugrana have secured a total of 19 international titles: four Champions Leagues (1992, 2006, 2009 and 2011), two Club World Cups (2009 and 2011), four Cup Winners’ Cup (1979, 1982, 1989, 1997), three Fairs Cups (1958, 1960 and 1966), four European Super Cups (1992, 1997, 2009 and 2011) and two Latin Cups (1949 and 1952).
The Blaugrana have gone through to the next round seven of the last eight times they secured an away-leg result of 2-2 far from the Camp Nou in European competitions
FC Barcelona left the Parc des Princes on Tuesday evening with a two-all result. Even though the result isn’t as good as the Blaugrana had hoped for, history shows that a 2-2 in the first of a two-leg tie is very favourable to Barça. The Blaugrana have gone through to the next round seven of the last eight times they secured an away-leg result of 2-2 far from the Camp Nou in European competitions. Here’s a detailed look at of the eight ties:
Rival: London XI. Fairs Cup. 1955/58. Final
The final of the inaugural edition of the Fairs Cup was resolved in a two-leg playoff. After drawing 2-2 in England, the Blaugrana claimed the title with a convincing 6-0 thrashing at the Camp Nou.
Rival: CDNA Sofia. European Cup. 1959/60. Round of 32
FC Barcelona managed to secure a 2-2 draw away to CDNA Sofia, it was Barça’s first match in the European Cup. The return leg, which ended in a 6 to 2 for Barça, saw Kubala and Evaristo score hat tricks.
Rival: Real Madrid. European Cup. 1960/61. Round of 16
Two goals from Suárez gave Barça a fighting chance against Real Madrid in the away leg in Madrid. The return leg, at the Camp Nou, strikes from Vergès and Evaristo secured a quarter-final berth for FC Barcelona (2-1).
Rival: Cologne. Cup Winners Cup. 1968/69. Semi finals
The final in Basel, which was won by Slovan Bratislava, was preceded by a semi-final tie in which FC Barcelona defeated Cologne (2-2 in Germany and 4-1 in Barcelona).
Rival: Aston Villa. UEFA Cup. 1977/78. Quarter finals
The Blaugrana and the Lions finished with 2-2 draw in England; in Barcelona, Barça fought back from a goal down to make it 2-1.
Rival: Bayern Munich. UEFA CUP. 1995/96. Semi finals
Bayern Munich are the only team to defeat FC Barcelona after a 2-2 draw away from the Camp Nou. The return leg in Barcelona saw the Germans strike twice after De La Peña had given the Blaugrana the lead.
Rival: Arsenal. Champions League. 2009/10. Quarter finals
The last time Barça finished an away leg in a European tie was in London, against Arsenal. The Gunners fought back from two goals down to equalise before the final whistle. The return leg saw Messi fire for four goals to down the London-based team (4-1). At the time, Ibrahimovic was a Barça player while Cesc and Song featured for Arsenal.
The defender believes the match against Mallorca give his teammates the chance "to prove to everyone that we have enough quality to compete without Messi"
"I'm pleased with the result and how we did our job," says Alves on yesterday's match against PSG
Dani Alves believes that Leo Messi’s injury, which will keep the Argentine from playing against Mallorca this weekend, is a “challenge” and “an incentive” for the rest of the Barça squad: “the fact that we don’t have him is an incentive to prove to everyone that we have enough quality to compete without him and show that we can do it just was well when he’s here. It’s a challenge for us to defeat PSG without Messi, but, obviously, it would be better if he was there.” At this point, Messi’s fitness remains in question for the upcoming Champions League match on Wednesday.
Satisfied with the match in Paris
On the team’s performance at the Parc des Princes, the Brazilian said that he’s “very pleased with the result (2-2), even though we left with a bitter taste in our mouths seeing how the game played out.” Alves went on to say that he’s “pleased with how the the team competed and with how we did our job. It was much better than the day we faced AC Milan at the San Siro.”
Volunteers to play in the middle of the defence
When asked about Barça’s many absences on defence (Puyol, Adriano and now Mascherano), Alves noted that the injuries “don’t help the team, but they’ll be back soon.” He then offered to play in the centre back role if the manager deems it necessary: “if I remember correctly, I played in that position with Guardiola when we played a back line of three. It’s easy for me to adapt: if I’m asked to attack, then I attack; if I’m asked to defend, then I defend, and if I’m asked to do both, I do my best. I’m at the disposition of the managers.”
“Football is for footballers”
When asked about the officiating in Paris, Alves was clear: “in football the referees should hardly be noticeable. Football is for footballers and they [referees] should go unnoticed. If they make the news it’s because they’ve made a mistake.” Was the end result against PSG conditioned by the referee? “Obviously, but we have to do a better job so something like that can’t happen again.”
All news, photos, videos and more about the match in Paris
Xavi scored his first ever penalty for the Club in the game and also made his 150th European appearance
Messi scored his 60th European goal, overtaking Larsson and Henry, who both managed 59.
The draw in Paris this Tuesday threw up some interesting facts and figures –particularly concerning Xavi Hernadez.
-Xavi’s penalty was the first time he had ever scored from the spot for the Club and was his 12th European goal.
-The game also marked Xavi’s 150th game in European competition, with just five players ahead of him - Giggs, Raúl, Zanetti, Seedorf and Maldini.
-Although he came off injured, Leo Messi still managed to score and chalked up his eighth of this year’s competition.
-The goal was also Messi’s 60th in European games, overtaking ex-Barça stars Henry and Larsson, who both bagged 59.
- PSG’s Matuidi will miss the second leg in the Camp Nou after picking up a yellow. Mascherano’s booking would also have ruled him out - though his injury will mean he misses the game anyway.
- Barça made 696 passes in the game, 620 of them successful against 281 by PSG
- Tito Vilanova’s side enjoyed 64,23% possession, against 35,77% for the hosts.
- Gerard Piqué recovered most possession for Barça, with 11 interventions, followed by Busquets with eight.
The Blaugrana assistant manager says that the 2-2 draw against PSG is a good result, but "we're sad, we had the game won despite the adversities"
“We’re going to approach the return leg like we always do, we have to try to score to make the match more difficult for them", says Roura
“It’s a good result,” said Jordi Roura after this evening’s 2-2 draw against Paris Saint-Germain. The assistant manager explained that “we’re a bit sad with the result seeing how the match played out, we had the game won despite the adversities.” Roura added: “we’re going to approach the return leg like we always do, we have to try to score to make the match more difficult for them; they feel the weight of the stadium and of our fans. We will go out to win the match.”
“There were some questionable calls, but the result is good. I’m sure these decisions did not benefit us,” said Roura, who went on to say that “we have to move forward and put these decisions aside.” In addition, the assistant manager said that the PSG’s performance didn’t surprise him: “PSG didn’t surprise me. We knew about their potential going into the match, they are physical and fast. We knew it was going to be a difficult match.”
Injuries, the worst bit of news
“We’ll find out how serious the injuries are, I think that’s the most important thing. Messi has a small issue with his hamstring and we don’t know how severe it is and Mascherano sustained a MCL tear in his right knee,” said Roura, who added that the prospect of playing the return leg without the Argentine duo, especially without the best player in the world, could complicate things for Barça. “If they can’t play it will be negative for us, but other players will step up and they will prove why they deserve to be here. We have a deep roster,” said Roura.
All news, photos and videos before the match in Paris
VIDEO: HIGHLIGHTS LAST MATCH IN PARIS
The assistant manager urged his players to be "intense and focused" in tomorrow's Champions League match against Paris Saint-Germain
"PSG dominate various aspects of the game. Ibrahimovic's presence on the pitch forces us to adapt to his style of play," said Roura
“We’re among the top eight team in Europe, in the quarter finals of the Champions League. This is going to be extremely difficult,” declared Jordi Roura in the pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow's Champions League showdown with Paris Saint-Germain. “PSG are a great team. They have Ibrahimovic, Moura, Lavezzi and a long list of fantastic players on a very deep roster,” he added. FC Barcelona’s assistant manager went on to say that his men “are very excited to play the match. We’re eager to compete against a fantastic team in such a magnificent venue. We have to be intense and focused.” He warned Barça mustn't make the same mistakes that it made against AC Milan: “We cannot allow ourselves to be at anything other than at 100%.”
“PSG are very good on the counter. In that sense, we’re used to playing against these types of rivals. However, PSG are very good at dominating other aspects of the game,” warned Roura. When asked about Ibrahimovic, he explained, “we know his qualities and we have to adapt to them. He’s a special player.” With that said, the assistant manager declared that Barça will not change its style of play: “we know that they have tall and physical players, they are very good on set pieces. We are what we are but we won’t change our style of play. It doesn’t benefit us.”
Tito to sit on the bench
The assistant manager revealed that “Tito Vilanova will be on the bench with us. He’s the boss and, therefore, on a professional level, his return is important. It means that we’re returning to normalcy. On a personal level it’s a great joy for all of us, he’s someone who is very loved.” When asked about Barça’s starting line-up, Roura said that the decision will be made in conjunction with Vilanova and Altimira. “With Xavi and Alba we still have to wait a few hours to see if they can play. We’ll have to pay attention to how they feel after today’s training session.” On Cristian Tello, the assistant manager said, “frankly, he played really well on Saturday and all of his options to play tomorrow are open, just like the rest of the squad.”
The Asturian forward is clear that "scoring away from home is very important and if we can return to Barcelona with an advantage, even better"
"Messi is our marquee player, whatever we do to make him more comfortable helps us all in the long run," says Villa
David Villa was a key player in FC Barcelona’s historic comeback against AC Milan at the Camp Nou three weeks ago. He scored one the four goals that clinched a spot in the quarter finals of the Champions League for Tito Vilanova’s men. Barça’s first match of the round of 8 will be played at the Parc des Princes against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday. On tomorrow’s showdown, the forward said: “we cannot commit the same error we did against Milan because it’s difficult to fight back. We need to be on form in both matches.” He added that there is no such thing as a favourite in the tie, as “it can only be decided on the pitch.” He went on to say that “in a high-caliber competition like this it’s very difficult to pick a favourite. Every team that has made it to this point deserves to be here, and all fo them can make it to the final.”
With that said, Villa went on to talk about how the Blaugrana will approach tomorrow’s match: “we know that scoring away from home is very important. If we can return to Barcelona with an advantage, even better.”
“Let’s hope Ibrahimovic doesn't have a good night”
FC Barcelona will once again cross paths with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who now plays for PSG. Villa knows that the Swede is a fantastic player and that’s why the Spaniard “hopes Ibrahimovic doesn’t have a good night.” He added: “I have confidence in our defence, they have played against him before.” The Asturian also talked about Thiago Silva, who “is great in the air on set pieces.”
“It’s about the team not the situation of one player.”
“I feel great physically despite the small injuries,” said Villa when asked about his current form. “I have more confidence now than I had a couple of week ago. I’m happy and content.” When asked about his future plans, the forward responded: “it would be disrespectful to talk about my future ahead one of the biggest matches of the season. It’s about the team not the situation of one player.” He added: “I have played and trained hard in order to have more time on the pitch and be influential in the team. I’m reaping the fruits of my hard work. I live in the present, I don’t focus on the past or the future.”
“Messi is our marquee player”
When asked about the Messi-Villa duo, the forward stated: “He is our marquee player, the most important player on the team. What we do to make him feel comfortable helps us all in the long run.”
Tito and Abidal’s return
The Asturian went on to talk about Tito Vilanova’s return to the team. “It’s a great joy to have him here with us. He’s our leader and that makes everything easier, especially when so much is at stake ... We are so so happy to see him like this, healthy. We have to enjoy him and hope that from now on it’s nothing but good news.”
Villa had similar words for Éric Abidal: “he’s an example for us all, not only athletes. He’s an example of what can be achieved through hard work, values and effort.”
The Barça boss, who led training on Friday and Sunday, was back with the squad on the flight to Paris this morning.
The Barça party flew out from Barcelona airport at 10-50 this morning and was headed by President Rosell and vice-presidents Bartomeu, Faus, Cardoner and Vilarrubí
Barça flew to Paris this morning ahead of Tuesday night’s Champions League quarter final first leg against PSG. With the welcome addition of Tito Vilanova, the squad boarded their plane for the French capital just before take-off at 10.50 this morning following the boss’ return to lead training on Friday and Sunday.
Training set for 19.00
The party was headed by President Sandro Rosell, vice presidents Josep Maria Bartomeu, Javier Faus, Jordi Cardoner and Carles Vilarrubí, board members Susana Monje, Toni Freixa, Jordi Moix, Eduard Coll, Pilar Guinovart, Ramon Pont, Joan Bladé, Javier Bordas, Silvio Elías, Manel Arroyo, Dídac Lee, Josep Ramon Vidal-Abarca and Ramon Cierco, as well as Sporting Director Andoni Zubizarreta.
The flight landed just after noon at the Charles de Gaulle airportand the players then went straight to their hotel – The Hotel du Collectionneur-Arc de Triomphe.
Tito Vilanova has called up 21 players for the game and the team will train with them this evening at 19.00.
Andoni Zubizarreta explained: “Tito’s fine – that’s why he’s travelled”, though he didn’t confirm that the boss would be dug out in Paris.
Zubi is also wary of the PSG attack: “they are fast and can make things difficult at any moment”
Andoni Zubizarreta was upbeat about the return of Tito Vilanova and his decision to travel with the squad to Paris: “after a couple of months, this is a return to normality for us. Having him, and Abidal, back means we are back to normal and is always good. Tito is fine and that’s why he’s travelled”. However, Zubi wouldn’t confirm that Tito would be in the dugout for the game against PSG on Tuesday evening.
PSG: “very talented”
Zubizarreta also warned about the quality of PSG: “they will make big demands on us. They are very talented, both collectively and individually. They have good players all over the pitch who have a lot of experience in big games – they won’t be frightened of this”. Zubi also stressed the danger the French league leaders pose up front: “they are fast and can make things difficult at any moment” .
The League and UEFA
Questioned about the team’s progress in La Liga, Zubizarreta praised the campaign the team are putting in: “the league seems to have been almost forgotten – but in August it was seen as the most important competition. We are at the top – in a very good position, but as we saw on Saturday, every team is playing for their lives at this stage of the season”.
Finally, Zubizarreta referred to UEFA’s decision to cut Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s suspension, claiming: “I imagine this will set a precedent for the future”.
The first team trip to Paris for UCL match against PSG
Ancelotti's men defeated the reigning champions thanks to a goal from Gameiro in the dying minutes of the match
Paris Saint-Germain, who will host FC Barcelona on Tuesday for the away leg of the Champions League quarter-finals, took on Montpellier this Friday. Kevin Gameiro scored the decisive goal after 81 minutes, he was assisted by Ibrahimovic.
Manager Carlo Ancelotti reserved some of his star players like Lucas Moura, Jallet and Lavezzi, but that didn’t stop PSG from consolidating their position at the top of Ligue 1.
Tito Vilanova and his men come into the month of April knowing that their future in the Champions League will be decided this month
The team will also make an attempt to claim the Liga title as they play against Mallorca, Zaragoza, Levante and Athletic Club
Now that the international break is over, Tito Vilanova and Jordi Roura are preparing the team for the ensuing crucial match-ups that will decide Barça’s fate in the league and the Champions League. The month of April is packed with important matches: six league games and at least two Champions League games. If Barca defeat PSG in the quarter-finals of the continental tournament, they’ll close out the month of April with the Champions League semi-finals.
PSG, circled in red
The Blaugrana won’t be shown any leniency right from the get go. After this Saturday’s match away to Celta, Messi, Xavi, Iniesta and company will travel to the French capital to play the away leg of the Champions League quarter final at the Parc des Princes. There, they will go up against Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Lavezzi, Pastore and their PSG teammates.
League title up for grabs
After the match in Paris, Barça will feature against two opponents in eight days: the first, in the league, will be played on April 6 at the Camp Nou against Mallorca, and the second will be the return leg of the Champions League quarter-final against PSG, on the 10th.
Tito Vilanova’s men will then travel to La Romareda to face Zaragoza, on the 14th of April. One week later, Barça will host Levante at home and finally, on the 28th, the Blaugrana will go to the San Mamés to take on Athletic Club. It’s evident that players cannot let their guard down if they want to win league title and, obviously, progress in the Champions League.
... in addition, possible semi-final berth
Even though Barça’s schedule is already packed, the team could play two more additional matches in April. If Barça defeat PSG, the away leg of the Champions League semi-final would be played on the 23rd or 24th of April, and the return leg on the 30th of April or 1st of May. The final is scheduled for May 25th.
The world famous comic character was created in the 1970s by Belgian artist Raymond Reding, with the scripts penned by his compatriot Françoise Hugues
In fifteen volumes, the Frenchman played for Barça, Paris Sant-Germain and then Barça again, the two teams that now meet in real life in the Champions League
The first adventures of this white-haired star with a certain resemblance to legendary Italian ace Roberto Bettega go back to the summer of 1974, but in those days he was called Walter Müller, and was a German amateur playing for his company team in Düsseldorf. A talent scout spotted his incredible abilities, and he ended up being signed by Barça. Müller arrived amongst much furore at the Camp Nou saying that it “will be an honour to wear the same shirt as Johan Cruyff”. But this 44 page story was the only one ever published about the fictional player.
In 1979, the character was revamped, this time called Eric Castel and coming from France. He was an Inter Milan player who had just returned from a long absence through injury and came to Barça hoping to start rebuilding his football career. He was a left-footed winger with an astonishing goalscoring ability, and before long he was one of the world’s greatest players. His goals helped win Barça all kinds of honours, with the first seven volumes of the series describing his rise to fame.
Move to PSG
Though the series was never published in English, it was an enormous hit among French, Spanish and Catalan language readers, for whom Eric Castel became as iconic a figure as Roy Race was among comic readers in the UK.
But Castel was searching for new challenges, and in 1984 he joined Paris Saint-Germain. As fate should have it, but predictably enough in a fictional story, Barça and PSG ended up facing each other in the final of the CEVA Cup, an imaginary trophy based on the former Fairs Cup and of equivalent importance, in the real world, to the modern-day Champions League. PSG lost the first leg 3-2 at the Camp Nou but came back to win 3-1 at the Parc des Princes, with Eric Castel (predictably enough) scoring twice in both matches. His Parisian days were covered by volumes eight and nine of the series.
Controversy and return to the Camp Nou
The whole affair led to outrage among followers of the series, who were devastated by Raymond Reding and Françoise Hugues’ decision to transfer Eric Castel to Paris Saint-Germain, and not only that, but to also have him participate in the defeat of Barça in the most important club competition in Europe. The publishers received hundreds of furious letters of complaint, and there was such a massive drop in sales of albums and other associated products that they felt they had no option but to send Castel back to Barça.
European champion with Barça
In 1986, he returned to the Catalan capital, where once again his remarkable goalscoring feats were portrayed with the same artistic brilliance as ever. In 1988, he was able to provide Barça with what he had denied them as a PSG player, as they won their first ever CEVA Cup. It was in volume twelve that Barça faced Girondins Bordeaux over two legs in the final. It was a comic series, after all, so the final was as thrillingly eventful as possible, both teams winning their home legs 4-3. The final having ended 7-7 on aggregate, there were no goals in extra time, and so it all went down to penalties. There are no prizes for guessing what happened next! Sue enough, Eric Castel, who had already scored twice at both the Camp Nou and Parc Lescure, was the man who converted the decisive spot-kick to win the title for Barça, four years before they finally won the continental crown in real life at Wembley in 1992.
These events are covered by volumes twelve to fifteen of the series, at the end of which he returned to France to play for Lille. That was in 1992, when the series was ended with our hero playing away from the Camp Nou. Eric Castel may never have really existed, but for people that grew up in the era, which spanned from the Basel final of 1979 to Wembley 1992, his name will always be remembered with almost as much affection as those of the players that donned the famous jersey in the real world.
The Barça defender claims that what we saw on Tuesday against Milan was “the real Barcelona and we have to keep playing at that level, with the same intensity and strength”
The scorer of the fourth goal against Milan, Alba admits that it was one of the most important moments of his career, because that goal made sure of the win.
Jordi Alba was naturally asked to comment on the Champions League draw, which has seen Barça paired with French outfit Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter finals. After first pointing out that he didn’t have any particular preferences regarding possible opponents, he said that “we have been drawn against a very complete side in every department, they’re a top class team and will cause us problems”. As for the absence through suspension of Ibrahimovic in the first leg, Alba commented that without him “they will be lacking a lot of strength in the air”.
Milan, the turning point
After the win against Milan, Jordi Alba admits that the squad’s morale is back after some disappointing setbacks in recent weeks. That was “the real Barcelona and we have to keep playing at that level, with the same intensity and strength” he said. “We have to learn from the games against Milan.” Although he didn’t think the team had played badly at the San Siro, he did accept that “we didn’t have the same intensity that we showed in the return leg”.
Going for gold
Asked what he would make of a potential Champions League final between Barça and Real Madrid, Alba merely said “I’d just be happy for Barça to get to the final and win, I don’t care who against”.
And on the subject of his injury time goal for FCB on Tuesday night, he admitted that “it was one of the most important goals of my career because it sealed the win after we’d suffered a lot in the last ten minutes”.
FC Barcelona’s director of sport has highlighted the quality of the PSG squad but feels his side will benefit from the second leg being at the Camp Nou
“Teams only get to the quarter finals of the Champions League if they have done well. We’ll only know if we have had a good or a bad draw if we come back to Nyon in three weeks time. We have just gone through an experience in the last round that has taught us to be prudent”, said Andoni Zubizarreta after Friday’s draw. When Barça’s name came out of the hat, only PSG, Bayern or Juventus remained as possible rivals, all of whom were going present a tough challenge, but as far as Zubi was concerned, “we have to be grateful for the fact that we’re playing the second leg at home, in front of our own people”.
He went on to say that “PSG have some great players, with plenty of talent. They have experience and know how to deal with games like these. I’m sure they’ll be battling to the end. They’re very competitive. And we’ll also get the chance to meet up with some players we know.”
Great games ahead
He also commented on the other match-ups. “Bayern and Juventus are two great clubs, and both in good form. That’s definitely the game that stands out most … As for the other two, I think there’ll be a lot of football in both. Malaga and Dortmund are two teams that like to play the ball. We all know how strong Real Madrid are, but they’re facing a team with some very experienced players.”
But now that the draw has been made, Zubizarreta obviously has more pressing concerns on his mind. “The Champions League will come when it comes, but we have a game against Rayo on Sunday and that really won’t be an easy game at all” he insisted.
If Barça defeat PSG this evening they will join Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid in the semi-final round of the competition
Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid are the two first semi-finalists of this year’s Champions League. In the event of a Barça victory this evening over PSG, the draw, which will be held on Friday at 12.00, could pair the Blaugrana up against one of these two teams. Here’s an overview of how Barça have faired against the German and Spanish clubs in European competitions.
Barça downs Dortmund
Even though FC Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund have never played against each other in the Champions League, the Blaugrana know what it’s like to defeat the German club in European play. In the 1997/98 season, the teams faced off in the European Super Cup (the only time the teams have played against each other).
Barça showed themselves to be more solid in the away leg at the Camp Nou as they won by 2-0. In the return leg, Borussia Dortmund tried to mount a comeback but Barça held them to a one-all draw. Barça returned home with the title.
Nearly even record with Real Madrid in Europe
FC Barcelona’s record against Real Madrid in European competitions stands at two victories, three draws and three defeats, from a total of eight matches. A Clásico in the semi-finals of the Champions League is certainly not a rare occurrence; in fact, the first time the two teams faced off against each other in Europe was in a semi-final. Barça and Madrid battled it out for a spot in the final in the 1959/60 season and the memories Barça fans have of the tie aren’t good: Los Blancos won 1-3 at the Camp Nou and 3-1 at the Bernabéu.
The next season, however, Barça sent Real Madrid out of the competition in the quarter-final round thanks to the 2-1 scoreline in Barcelona and the 2-2 in Madrid.
40 years went by before we were treated to another Champions League Clásico. It was in the 2001/02 season, when Real Madrid reached the final by defeating the Blaugrana 0-2 at the Camp Nou. Barça were unable to mount a comeback in Madrid the following week (1-1). But fate brought the two teams together again three years later, in the semi-final round of the Champions League. Pep Guardiola’s FC Barcelona defeated Real Madrid thanks to a one-all draw at the Camp Nou and a decisive 2-0 victory at the Bernabéu. Barça would go on to win the Champions League title in Wembley weeks later.
Tuesday’s will be the fourth meeting between Barça and PSG, with a draw and a win for each of them in the previous three
PSG, who are in the Champions League quarter final for the second time in their history, haven’t lost at home in the competition since November 2006
The Champions League quarter final first leg between PSG-FCB has thrown up a number of interesting facts which we detail below:
• Tuesday’s will be the fourth game between the two teams in European competitions. PSG won 2-1 in the 1993-4 Champions League quarter finals, with the two drawing 1-1 at the Camp Nou in the first leg and in the 1997 Cup Winners Cup Final Barça won 1-0.
• The two also met in a friendly on August 4th 2012 at the Parc des Princes which ended in a 2-2 draw.
• Barça have played against French opposition on 15 occasions, winning nine times, and drawing and losing three times. In France, they have won three times, lost twice and drawn twice.
• PSG have beaten La Liga teams nine times, lost five games and drawn four, but have only lost once at home to teams from the Spanish league.
• Although this is only their second appearance in the quarter finals, PSG are unbeaten at home in Europe since November 2006, when Hapoel Tel-Aviv beat them 2-4 in the UEFA Cup. In the 23 games since then, they have remained unbeaten.
• Barça have won all of their last six Champions League quarter finals, with the last defeat coming in the 2002/03 season against Juventus.
• Barça will face two ex-players in Paris – Maxwell and Ibrahimovic, whilst another, Motta is injured.
• The last time Barça played an official game in French capital was in 2006, when they beat Arsenal 2-1 in the Champions League final at Saint-Denis.
• During that season’s competition, Barça overcame AC Milan (0-1 and 0-0), who were coached by the current PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti.
• For seven Barça players -Valdés, Piqué, Busquets, Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc and Villa - this will be their second game in seven days in Paris, after they were involved in Spain’s 0-1 win over France last week.
Season 2013 - 2014iCal
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