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The draw for the Champions League quarter-finals brought the blaugranes face to face once again with the current French league champions. The two teams were in the same group earlier in the competition with Barça pipping Laurent Blanc’s team to top spot in Group F. With the blaugranes having overcome Manchester City in the last 16 and Paris Saint-Germain having eliminated Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea, the two clubs are now set to battle it out for a place in the Champions League semi-finals.
Luis Enrique’s side trained at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday with the Barça coach having brought his entire squad to Paris minus the recovering Thomas Vermaelen and the suspended Dani Alves. German goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen seems set to continue in goal as he has done throughout the competition so far with Claudio Bravo, first choice in La Liga, relegated to a place on the bench.
Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc will have to make do without the former Barça striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede has scored 13 goals in his last seven games for club country, including two hat tricks, but is unavailable for the first leg due to suspension. Midfielder Marco Verratti and defender Serge Aurier also must serve a one game ban and a three game ban respectively. Brazilian defender David Luiz is a surprise inclusion in the squad after recovering from a hamstring injury picked up in PSG’s recent victory against Ligue 1 arch rivals Olympique Marseille. However, former Barça midfielder Thiago Motta is ruled out after also suffering a hamstring injury in the same game.
Blaugrana coach Luis Enrique can in no way be accused of underestimating his team’s opponents, reminding everyone in the pre-game press conference in Paris on Tuesday, “From the start I have said that PSG are one of the favourites for the title.” Paris Saint-Germain boss and former Barça player Laurent Blanc touched upon the valuable experience of already having come up against Barça twice in the competition: “We have learned lessons from the game in the group stage in the Parc des Princes. We will have to defend well not to concede at home.”
Barça have made it to the quarter-finals of the Champions League for a record eight seasons in a row thanks to their victory over Manchester City in the previous round, which included a 2-1 triumph away from home in the Etihad Stadium. Luis Enrique’s side had won nine games in a row in all competitions before being held to a 2-2 draw on Saturday in La Liga by Sevilla in the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán stadium.
Paris Saint-Germain have won four in a row following defeat in the league against Girondins Bordeaux, their only loss in their last 20 matches. The most recent win came in the French League Cup final on Saturday when they claimed the trophy by beating Bastia 4-0, Ibrahimovic and Cavani scoring twice each.
In this season’s group stage Paris Saint-Germain recorded a 3-2 win over Barça in the Parc des Princes. The blaugranes, however, had their revenge with 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 last victory on French soil came in the initial group stage back in 2001/02. A Barça side featuring Xavi Hernández won 3-2 away at Olympique Lyonnais. The blaugranes have drawn on three of their last four visits to France.
Paris Saint-Germain have not lost at home in their last 33 matches in Europe, recording 22 wins and 11 draws in that time. Their last defeat in the Parc des Princes came against Israeli club Hapoel Tel Aviv in the UEFA Cup back in November 2006. The club from Paris are hoping it will be third time lucky after losing at the quarter-final stage last season to Chelsea and the season before to FC Barcelona.
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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