This is a massive occasion for PSG, whose ultimate ambition is to win this competition. Having accepted at the time that the draw could have been kinder they’re now fully focused on trying to pull off what would be a massive upset by knocking out the highly-fancied visitors. The hosts would accept a draw from this opening leg. That would ensure they’re still in the tie heading to Camp Nou for the return fixture. For that reason, a balanced approach is likely. PSG will be wary of Barcelona’s immense attacking threat but will also work hard to get the ball to leading scorer Cavani in positions where he can hurt the visitors’ defence. PSG’s team news is good. Midfielder Thiago Motta is the only first-team contender unavailable. They will lack a bit of experience without him. In all other areas manager Unai Emery has great options to pick from. PSG’s stunning form since the start of the year (W9-D1-L0) will have put the hosts in confident mood, even though none of those games were against opponents of Barcelona’s calibre.
Barcelona have good team news with key men like Iniesta and Busquets totally ready having shaken off recent injuries. Both men are crucial for their experience in this match. The only notable absence who may have sneaked into the XI is Mascherano, but it’s absolutely not a concern with Umtiti being in decent form and playing on home soil. Having rested almost half of the outfield team for this game, Barcelona should be free of fatigue. They were also able to play much of the 2nd half at walking pace against a much weakened Alaves team once they got 0-6 ahead. This bodes well for the team being prepared, fresh and able to play at their best intensity which is the only time Barcelona look their best. PSG should give Barcelona problems in both the home and the away matches of the tie and it would not be a surprise to see Barcelona fall at the first hurdle of the knockout stages. Barcelona will respect PSG and be pleased to draw, so they’re not expected to be risk taking at 0-0. If they score first then Barcelona would look to slow it down and play on breaks.
Verdict & Prediction
PSG will be fully fired-up and focused for this massive game against one of Europe’s top sides. Unai Emery’s hosts are underdogs on the night and to get through the tie but will believe they have the players and form to trouble the illustrious visitors. PSG have won nine and drawn one of 10 matches in all competitions since the start of the year. With strong form, good team news, and one of Europe’s deadliest strikers in Cavani ST5 they’ll believe they’re in almost as good a shape as they could possibly be for the tie.
Prediction: PSG +0.25 Asian Handicap
Odds: 1.95 SBOBET