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PSG vs Barcelona: Even without Zlatan Ibrahimovic Ligue 1 champions can still trouble Spanish giants

14 Apr | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
PSG vs Barcelona: Even without Zlatan Ibrahimovic Ligue 1 champions can still trouble Spanish giants

The Swedish striker serves a suspension at the Parc des Princes but Laurent Blanc's men can get a positive result on Wednesday night

The theme tune parps up. The Gazprom begins to flow. The stars glint in that logo. Yep: after a brief hiatus, the Champions League is very much back.

Back with a bang, as well, if this week’s fixtures are anything to go by. We get started on Tuesday with the small matter of a Madrid derby and Juventus vs Monaco, while Pep Guardiola’s ridiculous Bayern Munich side actually get to play a semi-competitive match against Porto.

But arguably (and I’m the one arguing) the most intriguing tie of the week takes place at the Parc des Princes, where in-form Paris Saint-Germain entertain Luis Enrique’s confounding Barcelona side.

There remains an alluring feeling of a culture clash surrounding a fixture like this: the nouvelle richesse of the Qatari-owned PSG looking to claim a place at the table of Europe’s grand old dames, represented here by Barcelona. The latter have been més que un club for approaching 120 years; Les Parisiens, for all their liquid assets, are ‘70s baby boomers still feeling their way into the big time.

Before this season, PSG’s previous two forays into the Champions League ended meekly, with away-goals defeats to Barcelona and Chelsea. But recent displays – not least the enormous revenge mission against Jose Mourinho’s side – suggest that Laurent Blanc’s men are beginning to get to grips with matters continental. 

Their cause will not be aided by the absence of talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, suspended for having the temerity to go in for a challenge with a Chelsea player at Stamford Bridge. But with Edinson Cavani having plundered two goals off the bench in the League Cup Final win over Bastia and the bewitching Javier Pastore in a rich vein of form, PSG still have the firepower to trouble Barcelona’s backline.

The Blaugrana warmed up for Wednesday’s game with a frustrating 2-2 draw against Sevilla – a result that saw their advantage at the top of La Liga cut to two points. The fallout called to mind some of the hand-wringing that characterised the early part of 2015 at the Camp Nou, but their recent record remains enviable: 20 wins in their last 22 games, scoring 68 goals in that period.

Something has to give, and you imagine it will probably be clean sheets. Expect goals and a result that leaves both sides with a chance in the second leg.