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Barcelona vs. Paris St. Germain - 5 key battles to decide the game | UEFA Champions League 2020-21

Can Paris St. Germain find a way of stopping Barcelona great Lionel Messi this Tuesday?
Can Paris St. Germain find a way of stopping Barcelona great Lionel Messi this Tuesday?
Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 15 Feb 2021
Top 5 / Top 10
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This week sees the return of the Champions League, with Europe’s biggest competition moving into the last 16. And on Tuesday, two of Europe’s biggest giants clash.

Barcelona play host to Paris St. Germain at the Nou Camp in the first leg of their meeting, and both of these sides will probably be confident of a win.

With that in mind, where will this battle of giants be decided? And will it be Ronald Koeman’s Barca who come out on top, or Mauricio Pochettino’s PSG?

Here are five key battles that could decide the match when Barcelona face Paris St. Germain.


#1 Lionel Messi (Barcelona) vs. Marquinhos (Paris St. Germain)

Marquinhos will likely be tasked with keeping Lionel Messi quiet this week.
Marquinhos will likely be tasked with keeping Lionel Messi quiet this week.

At 33 years old, the idea that Lionel Messi would begin to slow down soon has been floating around for years now.

And yet, despite rumors persisting that his time at Barcelona may soon be coming to an end, the Argentine wizard simply never stops producing the goods on the pitch.

In the current campaign, Messi has already delivered a total of 19 goals for Barcelona, as well as five assists. Three of those goals have come in the four Champions League games that the Argentine has appeared in.

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With Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman now firmly building his attack around Messi, with Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele as a support act, it’s clear that he will be their key player in this match.

That means it’ll be largely down to Paris St. Germain center-back Marquinhos to stop him on Tuesday.

It’s a worrying task. Thus far, the Brazilian has enjoyed an excellent season, scoring highly in all defensive statistics since moving to center-back permanently after Thiago Silva’s departure.

But Marquinhos has certainly not faced an opponent like Messi this season. And with the erratic Presnel Kimpembe alongside him, he’ll need to be at his absolute best to handle the Argentine.

With this in mind, if Messi can get the better of PSG’s defensive duo, Barcelona will be hopeful of a win.


#2 Mauro Icardi (Paris St. Germain) vs. Clement Lenglet (Barcelona)

Can Mauro Icardi fill the Neymar-shaped hole in Paris St. Germain
Can Mauro Icardi fill the Neymar-shaped hole in Paris St. Germain's attack in their game against Barcelona?
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Of course, even if Lionel Messi delivers the goods, Barcelona’s defense will need to be at their best to stop Paris St. Germain’s impressive arsenal of attackers.

Sure, Neymar is out with an injury for Tuesday’s match. However, that only means that the dangerous Mauro Icardi is almost certain to lead the line for Mauricio Pochettino’s side, which doesn’t make things any easier for Barcelona.

Icardi hasn’t always started for PSG this season, with the likes of Moise Kean and Neymar leading their line. In fact, he hasn’t yet appeared in this Champions League campaign for them due to injuries.

Even so, he’s already scored five goals and registered three assists in just eight Ligue 1 starts. And given Barcelona’s own defensive issues - conceding 21 goals in domestic competition - he’ll be hopeful of doing some damage on Tuesday.

The highly-rated Clement Lenglet is likely to be his primary opponent. But alongside him, with both Gerard Pique and Ronald Araujo injured, Barcelona might be forced to deploy midfielder Frenkie de Jong.

That means that Icardi will be up against a somewhat makeshift defense – giving him more chance of finding success.

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Published 15 Feb 2021, 19:26 IST
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