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Barça are just a possible 90 minutes away from a place in the semi-finals of this season’s Champions League. Standing between them and the last four are a Paris Saint-Germain side who will have to overcome a 3-1 deficit from the first leg if they are to upset the odds and take their place in Friday’s draw in Nyon, Switzerland.
The blaugranes trained on Monday for the final time before the second leg against the French league champions with Andrés Iniesta having received the medical all clear. The midfielder is included in the squad of 23 named on Tuesday morning, from which five names must be dropped before kick-off. Jérémy Mathieu trained on his own in Barça’s final session after picking up a knock against Valencia on Saturday, but he is also included, as are Dani Alves, who missed the win in Paris due to suspension and Thomas Vermaelen, despite not receiving medical clearance.
PSG boss Laurent Blanc welcomes back talismanic striker and former blaugrana Zlatan Ibrahimovic to the squad after the Swede missed the first leg due to suspension. Influential midfielder Marco Verratti also comes back in with the Italian also having sat out the game in Paris for disciplinary reasons. Defender Serge Aurier, however, is still out as he serves the second of a three game ban. Ex-Barça midfielder Thiago Motta is also out due to injury as is captain Thiago Silva who limped off after just 20 minutes of the 3-1 defeat for his side in the Parc des Princes.
Barça boss Luis Enrique is confident about his side’s ability to make it to the last four based on his team’s performances already this season against Paris Saint-Germain: “I have a good feeling because we know our opponents well, we have met three times this season and in the three games we have seen more positives than negatives.” The Asturian also commented on the return of PSG’s Ibrahimovic and Verratti for the second leg: “In footballing terms is not an issue because PSG will keep playing with the same style, but it will add to their individual quality, since they have a lot of potential.”
Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc was honest about his side’s chances in the tie following on from their home defeat in the first leg: “I am a realist and we know that it will be very difficult, given that it we have had little time to prepare for the game. We don’t have anything to lose and we will simply play our usual game.”
Following wins in Parc des Princes in the first leg and against Valencia at the weekend at Camp Nou in the Spanish League, Barça have now won 11 of their last 12 matches in all competitions. The 2-0 victory over Nuno Santo’s team in La Liga saw the blaugranes maintain their two point lead over Real Madrid with a win that saw Leo Messi score his 400th goal in a Barça shirt in official competition and Luis Suárez his 12th goal in his last 12 matches for Luis Enrique’s team.
After the defeat in the first leg, Paris Saint-Germain racked up their third successive win in the league at the weekend with a 3-1 away victory over Nice. Argentinian Javier Pastore scored twice in the win which means that Laurent Blanc’s side are now in second place in Ligue 1, behind leaders Olympique Lyonnais on goal difference having played a game less.
In this season’s group stage Barça recorded a 3-1 victory at Camp Nou in the final round of fixtures in Group F, allowing Luis Enrique’s side the luxury of topping the group with the French champions qualifying as runners-up. The two sides met in the quarter-finals two seasons ago, Barça going through on away goals after drawing 2-2 in Paris and 1-1 at Camp Nou. The blaugranes have lost just once in their last 31 home games in the Champions League, winning eight and drawing one of their last nine.
Paris Saint-Germain are hoping to reach the semi-finals for the first time since they overcame FC Barcelona in the quarter-finals back in 1994/95, only to lose to AC Milan in the last four. The French club’s record in Spain reads W4 D2 L4, the last victory coming at Valencia in the last-16 tie two seasons ago when goals from the Argentinian duo of Lavezzi and Pastore gave them a 2-1 win in Mestalla.
No matter where you are in the world we have you covered. And remember, you can enjoy live commentary in English on Radio Barça. The link will appear at fcbarcelona.com just before kick-off. Twitter users can follow @FCBarcelona for a live feed of all the action.
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