- Copy link
FC Barcelona’s Champions League journey continues on Tuesday night with the first leg of the Round of 16 tie against Paris Saint Germain. Here is our lowdown on the multiple French champions.
Where are they from?
The club was formed out of a 1970 merger between Paris FC (which has continued to exist as a separate entity) and Stade Saint-Germain, who were based in Saint-Germain-en-Laye, an elegant and affluent district on the western outskirts of the French capital. Although the club’s training ground, Camp des Loges, is located in Saint-Germain, the team plays at the Parc des Princes, which is also in the west of Paris, but about 15 km away. Paris is big!
Paris had no elite football club until PSG came long, and the club was founded as a kind of crowdfunding campaign. It wasn’t until the 1980s that they started to win trophies, and not until the 1990s that they were truly established as one of France’s top clubs, boosted by a deal with Canal+ and players like David Ginola, George Weah and Raí.
The 21st century began with Olympique Lyonnais dominating French football and PSG suffering a series of football and sporting crises. A 2011 takeover by Qatar Sports Investments changed everything. PSG could now afford to bring in some of the best players in the world, and have won seven of the last eight Ligue 1 titles and last season reached the Champions League Final for the first time.
The return leg will be played at the 47,929 capacity Parc des Princes. PSG have played there since 1974, originally sharing it with the French national rugby and football teams, until the Stade de France was built for the 1998 World Cup. This is the third stadium on the same site. The one that hosted the first ever European Championship Final in 1960 was replaced by the current version in 1972 and there are plans for a further expansion to 60,000.
Head to head
It’s a game that immediately brings to mind one of the most famous encounters in Barça history, and the one website users recently voted as the greatest Barça game of all time.
It’s that of the 2017/18 edition when the Catalans looked to be heading out of the competition after a 4-0 defeat in the French capital. The return leg produced the biggest comeback in competition's history, with Barça winning 6-1 to advance. Sergi Roberto’s last second winner is now a part of club folklore!
But there have been plenty of other meetings between the sides in the past, all in the Champions League apart from the 1996-97 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Final. Barça have always had the upper hand, apart from the first ever meeting, back in 1995, when it was PSG that progressed.
1994-95 Champions League Quarter Final
Barça 1-1 PSG / PSG 2-1
(PSG advanced 3-2 on aggregate)
1996-97 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup Final
Barça 1-0 PSG
2012-13 Champions League Quarter Final
PSG 2-2 Barça / Barça 1-1 PSG
(Barça advanced on away goals)
Sergi Roberto against PSG.
PSG started their league season with back-to-back defeats and also dropped a lot of points around November and December, and it means Lille are still the surprise leaders of Ligue 1, with PSG a point behind and Lyon staring over their shoulders.
They shared a Champions League group with RB Leipzig, Manchester United and İstanbul Başakşehir and didn't get off to the best of starts. But a 3-1 win at Old Trafford changed everything and they ended up topping the group.
Most international caps
Ángel Di María (Argentina, 104), Neymar (Brazil, 103), Keylor Navas (Costa Rica, 92), Idrissa Gueye (Senegal, 68), Julian Draxler (Germany, 56), Marquinhos (Brazil, 51), Danilo Pereira (Portugal, 44), Alessandro Florenzi (Italy, 40), Kylian Mbappé (France, 39), Marco Verratti (Iyaly, 38), Leandro Paredes (Argentina, 27), Presnel Kimpembe (France, 13), Layvin Kurzawa (France, 13), Juan Bernat (Spain, 11)
Brazilian midfielder Rafinha (pictured above) was a graduate of La Masia and played 56 games for the senior team, between periods on loan to Celta and Inter Milan and He joined PSG at the start of this season.
Argentinian striker Mauro Icardi played for the Barça U18 and U19 teams before opting to move to Sampdoria in Italy.
Brazilian striker Neymar, who misses the game through injury, was part of the legendary trident at Barça alongside Leo Messi and Luis Suárez, one of the most glorious, spectacular and successful attacking threesomes football has ever witnessed. He departed for PSG in 2017 for the highest transfer fee ever paid in football.
Top scorers 2020/21 (all competitions)
Kylian Mbappé (16), Neymar (13), Moise Kean (11)
Mauricio Pochettino replaced Thomas Tuchel as manager just a month and a half ago. The Argentinian, who proceeds from the same Newell's Old Boys as Leo Messi, played for two seasons at PSG but was best known for his many years at Espanyol player, and he also managed Barça’s local rivals for three years and led the team to its only win at Camp Nou in the last 39 years. After that he was at Southampton (where he’d be replaced by Ronald Koeman) and Tottenham (facing Barça in last season’s Champions League).
Have a go at our PSG Quiz. If you've been reading carefully you'll already know some of the answers!
Did you know?
When Keylor Navas won the Trophée des Champions in January, he surpassed Barça legend Rafa Márquez to become the Concacaf player with the most European trophies.
Playing for Roma at the time, Alessandro Florenzi’s goal against Barça in 2015 was one of the three nominees for the 2015 Puskas Award.
Neymar’s transfer fee may have been the biggest ever paid, but PSG also paid the second highest when they acquired Kylian Mbappé from Monaco in 2018.
Eric Castel, a cartoon strip player created in 1974 by Raymond Reding and Françoise Hugues, popular in the original French and in its Spanish/Catalan translations, played for both PSG and Barça.
Barça legend Xavi on Marco Varatti: “He's one of the best midfielders in the world, and plays a little bit in the same way as I tried to do with Barcelona and the national team”
Ángel Di María has the third highest number of assists in Champions League history, topped only by Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
The PSG anthem Ô Ville Lumière is sung to the same tune as Flower of Scotland.
Red and blue are the colours of the city of Paris, but the club has also worn white in the past (a symbol of French royalty and Saint-Germain-en-Laye). They have since returned to the blue with a red vertical striped originally created in 1973 by French fashion designer Daniel Hechter and allegedly inspired by the Ajax shirt.
- Copy link