- Copy link
Mauricio Pochettino has described the game between Barça and PSG as “one where both teams aspire to win the Champions League", as he and his player and Argentine compatriot Leandro Paredes spoke to the press on the eve of the first leg at Camp Nou.
PSG missing players
Neymar, Di María, Juan Bernat, Dagba, Franchi, Pembélé and Simons are all absent from the squad. “They are all important losses” says their coach. “But the team is ready to compete. We want to win this game.”
There were also doubts surrounding former Barça man Rafinha and Italian international Verrati, but they have both eventually travelled to the Catalan capital. The full squad is as follows: Bakker, Diallo, Draxler, Florenzi, Gueye, Ander Herrera, Icardi, Kean, Kehrer, Kimpembe, Kurzawa, Letellier, Marquinhos, Mbappé, Michut, Keylor Navas, Paredes, Pereira, Rafinha, Sergio Rico, Pablo Sarabia & Verratti.
New man in charge
Pochettino knows all about the city of Barcelona after both playing for and managing RCD Espanyol. He also played two seasons at PSG, and returned to the club in January as a replacement for Thomas Tuchel. He has guided the team to six wins, one draw and a loss at Lorient, moving them up to second in the league, just one point behind Lille, as well as winning his maiden trophy as a manager, the Trophée des Champions, France’s equivalent of the Super Cup.
“We are adapting quickly” he says. “I have found ambitious players here, and they work very hard in training. Football today is more an obsession than a passion. We love this sport and think about it all the time – I mean obsession in the positive sense. PSG is overflowing with passion and you can sense that when you come to this club. That’s not a bad thing. We are going to be competing against another team that’s aspiring to win the Champions League. I admired Koeman as a player and I do now as a manager too.”
As for Barça, he observes that “a team always needs time to settle into a new coach. There have clearly been improvements for the better over time. Koeman has had the time he needs and Barcelona are much more solid now.”
Paredes on Messi
Asked about the famous 6-1 defeat the last time PSG were in town, midfielder Paredes, who was playing for Roma at the time, says “all I remember about that was the score. It was a long time ago, and the players are only thinking about tomorrow’s game.”
A game in which one of his jobs will be dealing with his compatriot Leo Messi: "I know it’s a responsibility and it’s one I’m ready to take on. I’ll do the best I can and hope we have as much ball as we can get to avoid getting into trouble.”
- Copy link