Hopes remained high in Paris on Wednesday that Paris-St-Germain could pull off what would go down as one of the greatest ever Champions League shocks, by beating Barcelona on their home turf.
After last week’s 2-2 draw in the first-leg of their quarter final at the Parc Des Princes, PSG are faced with the daunting task of having to win at the Camp Nou, unless the game ends as an unlikely 3-3 or even 4-4 draw, which would send PSG through on the away goals rule.
“We will give it our best shot,” PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said on the eve of the match.
With the odds clearly stacked against PSG, who should start with David Beckham lining up in midfield, most observers outside France have written off their chances.
However, hope springs eternal in France that the club, bankrolled by oil-rich Qataris can match what the team achieved in 1995, when it knocked out Barcelona on the way to the European Cup semi-finals.
The French press were upbeat about the team’s chances, with Europe1 radio laying out three crucial factors in favour of PSG, under the headline “Why PSG can do it”.
The main reason why PSG can allow themselves a semblance of hope in the Camp Nou is the potential absence of record-breaking goal scorer and finest player on the planet, Lionel Messi.
The Argentine striker was injured in the first leg and is a doubt for the return match. He has not been ruled out however and PSG will be biting their finger nails until the Barcelona team is announced.
Even the sight of Messi starting on the bench would give the Parisians a huge psychological boost.
The second reason why Europe1 believes in PSG, is the presence in the team of the “best defender in the world,” Thiago Silva. English midfielder Joey Barton admitted he had made a fool of himself by criticizing PSG’s Silva before last week’s game, only for the Brazilian to then “have the game of his life”.
He will need to repeat that performance tonight if his team are to hold out any chance of making the semi-finals.
Barcelona’s supposedly shaky defense is another reason why PSG should be optimistic. The Barcelona captain Carlos Puyol will be missing, along with his replacement Javier Mascherano. Both are absent through injury.
Central defender Carlos Puyol is likely to be partnered by the inexperienced Marc Bartra, who has only 17 appearances under his belt.
Finally there is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Swedish international who perhaps more than anyone will carry the hopes of PSG. Ibrahimovic, a former Barca player whose time at the Camp Nou was marked by rumours of spats with players and management, has unfinished business against his old club.
He would dearly love to score the winner and has all the ability at his disposal to do just that. Despite scoring in the first leg, “Ibra” had a disappointing game. He will be looking to make up for that tonight.
“Barcelona has already been beaten by Inter Milan and Chelsea [in the champions League] so why not PSG?” asked Réné Girard, the coach of Montpellier.