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Javier Pastore / PHOTO: PSG

Paris Saint-Germain, Barça’s next opponents in the Champions League, are once again one of the continental giants. Since 2011, When Qatari Nasser Al-Khelaifi became the new chairman, the club has become not just a powerful force in France but also Europe. Top quality signings like Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Pastore, Lavezzi and Lucas Moura, as well such an iconic figure as David Beckham, have boosted PSG enormously, and after a 19 year absence, they are back in the quarter finals with a vengeance.

Huge investment

The main reason for this return to strength has been the enormous amount of money the club has been able to spend on players. In the summer of 2011, PSG invested 240 million euros to create a star-studded squad that, as well as aforementioned stars, also includes, Verratti, Van der Wiel and Gameiro. They also have a high profile manager in Carlo Ancelotti, twice winner of the continental crown with AC Milan (2003 and 2007), who has shaped the team into a solid block with plenty of emphasis on attacking football. Ibrahimovic and Lavezzi are both in exceptional form, while the side from the French capital is also especially lethal from set pieces, something Barça will need to bear in mind.

Major improvements

The money has clearly been well spent. PSG finished a miserable thirteenth in Ligue 1 in 2009/10, but are now the leaders, although Olympique Lyon and defending champions Montpellier are hot on their heels. Meanwhile, in the Champions League since reaching the semi finals in 1994/95 (beating FC Barcelona in the quarter finals and eventually going out to AC Milan) this is the first time they have made it as far as the last eight. However, they did win the Cup Winners Cup in 1996 (and lost the final a year later to FC Barcelona), and made it into the quarter finals of the Europa League in 2009.

Three familiar faces

The draw also means returns to Barcelona for three former players: Ibrahimovic, Maxwell and Motta. However, the Swedish striker will be missing from the first leg at the Parc des Princes because he is serving a two-match band after being sent off against Valencia in the first leg of the previous round. PSG will be boosted by one curious statistic in their favour. No Spanish team has ever been able to beat the Parisians over two legs. In their five previous encounters with Liga teams, all of Barça, Real Madrid (twice), Deportivo and Valencia have all been eliminated.

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