Barça’s preseason moves into a new phase tonight. After the friendlies in Hamburg and Tangiers, they are now in action in the French capital. The opposition is París Saint-Germain, one of the most talked about teams in European football right now after their spectacular spending spree this summer. It all makes for a terrific test for Tito Vilanova, who finally has almost his entire first team squad to work with.
The players that won the European Championship for Spain, and also those that appeared in the Olympic Games, apart from Jordi Alba, have been included in the squad for the first time this season. Also back is Carles Puyol, shortly after he was declared fully fit. But Adriano will not be travelling to France after spraining his ankle. That means there will be 17 first team players in the squad, joined by 5 from the reserves (Tello, Sergi Roberto, Rafinha, Planas and Ilie).
This will be the first time that Vilanova has been able to manage what is almost a full strength squad. And he only has two more friendlies after this one before the season commences in earnest with the opening Liga fixture against Real Sociedad.
Paris Saint-Germain, meanwhile, are immersed in a major project to transform the club into one of the prominent forces in European football. They have spent big this summer to bring in new players of the calibre of Lavezzi, Thiago Silva and Ibrahimovic. The Swede is one of three former Barça players now under the orders of Carlo Ancelotti, along with Maxwell and the injured Motta.
Tonight’s clash will bring back memories of some classic encounters between PSG and Barça in the nineties. The French side was the opposition on the night that FC Barcelona won its fourth Cups Winners Cup in Rotterdam on 1997. But two years later, the Parisians got their revenge by knocking Barcelona out of the Champions League at the quarter final stage in a gripping pair of games.