The UEFA Champions League is back with a set of knock-out fixtures this week as Barcelona host Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of the Round of 16 on Tuesday. The two European giants have blown hot and cold this season and will need to be at their best to seize the initiative in this fixture.
Barcelona are in excellent form in La Liga at the moment and their seven consecutive league victories have papered over some very disconcerting moments in knock-out games this season. The Catalan giants have a special history against Paris Saint-Germain and will want to put their best foot forward at the Camp Nou on Tuesday.
Paris Saint-Germain have also suffered from the occasional slip in their Ligue 1 title race and have a point to prove going into this game. The reigning French champions have troubled Barcelona in the past and will fancy their chances against the Blaugrana this week.
Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain Head-to-Head
Barcelona have a good record against Paris Saint-Germain and have won four out of nine matches played between the two teams. Paris Saint-Germain have managed only two victories against Barcelona and will view this fixture as an opportunity to improve their record against the Catalan outfit.
The previous meeting between the two teams gave rise to the famous 'La Remontada' as Barcelona completed a historic 6-1 comeback to stun Paris Saint-Germain at the Camp Nou. Over the past four years, a series of controversies have produced a discernible level of bad blood between the two clubs and the resulting cold war is likely to have its fair share of ramifications on the pitch.
Barcelona form guide: W-L-W-W-W
Paris Saint-Germain form guide: W-W-W-W-L
Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain Team News
Ronald Araujo has been Barcelona's best defender this season but will likely be unavailable for this game. Philippe Coutinho, Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto, and Gerard Pique are recuperating from long-term injuries and will also have to sit out of this fixture.
With Martin Braithwaite currently injured, Antoine Griezmann is likely to keep his place in the team. Ousmane Dembele and Pedri made substitute appearances against Alaves over the weekend and are likely to play important roles in this game.
Injured: Philippe Coutinho, Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto, Gerard Pique, Ronald Araujo, Martin Braithwaite
Barcelona's 'Remontada' hero Neymar has since joined Paris Saint-Germain but has been ruled out of this fixture. Angel Di Maria and Juan Bernat are struggling with their fitness and will be excluded from the squad. Rafinha and Colin Dagba are also carrying knocks and might not be risked against Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
Injured: Neymar, Angel Di Maria, Juan Bernat, Timothee Pembele
Doubtful: Rafinha, Colin Dagba
Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain Predicted XI
Barcelona Predicted XI (4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Jordi Alba, Clement Lenglet, Oscar Mingueza, Sergino Dest; Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri; Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann, Lionel Messi
Paris Saint-Germain Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Keylor Navas; Layvin Kurzawa, Presnel Kimpembe, Marquinhos, Alessandro Florenzi; Idrissa Gueye, Leandro Paredes; Marco Verratti, Moise Kean, Kylian Mbappe; Mauro Icardi
Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain Prediction
Barcelona recovered from their defeat in Seville with an emphatic 5-1 victory against Deportivo Alaves over the weekend. Lionel Messi scored two incredible goals on the night and his impeccable form will send warning bells ringing through the Paris Saint-Germain camp.
With Neymar injured, the onus will be on Kylian Mbappe to carry the weight at the Camp Nou on Tuesday. Barcelona's defence is prone to counter-attacks and the Frenchman's searing pace can potentially torment the Catalans this week.
Barcelona have improved under Ronald Koeman this season, however, and the dimensions of the Camp Nou often suit their style of play. Paris Saint-Germain might be able to find their away goals on Tuesday but their suspect defence is unlikely to keep Barcelona at bay.
Prediction: Barcelona 3-2 Paris Saint-Germain