Things didn't exactly go to plan for Paris Saint-Germain last week, giving up three away goals to Barcelona and only managing one of their own. They're in desperate straits if they want to find a way back into this tie, and while they're not completely without hope, they have a massive hill to climb if they're going to cause an upset for a second round in a row.
Barcelona are sitting pretty, though, with the power of three away goals at their disposal. If they can keep the returned Zlatan Ibrahimovic at bay and score an early goal of their own, the job will be done. If there's anything that Luis Enrique's side has proved it can do this season, it's keeping the task at hand in view and not letting distractions set in. If they do that in this match, they'll be leaving this match with their heads held high.
Barcelona are in fairly good health, with Dani Alves returning from his suspension and only Thomas Vermaelen guaranteed to be out. A few other players are banged up to varying degrees, but everyone else is at least available to play, even if they're not at 100 percent.
The news is more mixed for Paris Saint-Germain. They're getting a big boost with the returns of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marco Verratti from their suspensions, but Serge Aurier is still suspended and Thiago Motta is still injured. Their defensive woes are further compounded by the injury absence of Thiago Silva, who hurt his hamstring against Barca last week.
Projected lineups (left to right)
Barcelona (4-3-3): Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Jordi Alba, Javier Mascherano, Gerard Pique, Dani Alves; Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets, Ivan Rakitic; Neymar, Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi
Paris Saint-Germain (4-3-3): Salvatore Sirigu; Maxwell, David Luiz, Marquinhos, Gregory Van Der Wiel; Blaise Matuidi, Marco Verratti, Yohan Cabaye; Javier Pastore, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani
Sergio Busquets vs. Blaise Matuidi -- One of the few areas of the pitch that PSG caused persistent issues for Barcelona was in central midfield, where Matuidi consistently got forward and either beat Busquets on his own, or waited for Busquets to mark another player and went through the space he left behind. He'll need to replicate that feat again today in order to give PSG as good a chance as possible to pull off the upset -- but Busquets won't want to lose to Matuidi twice in a row.
Andres Iniesta vs. Marco Verratti -- The battle of playmakers will see two players at very different stages of their careers face-off. Iniesta seems to be entering the downswing of his career, losing pace and sharpness, while Verratti is one of the young midfielders in the game that many point at to be a star in the making. Verratti's deeper positioning means that they'll be going toe-to-toe quite frequently, and whoever gains the upper hand in this game will have a profound impact on the buildup play of both sides.
Gerard Pique vs. Zlatan Ibrahimovic -- Pique seems to have slipped back into the error-prone form that has plagued him at times over the past few years, and he's got a tough task ahead of him in this match. He'll be squaring off with a well-rested Ibrahimovic, ready and eager to take advantage of any slip-ups that Pique makes. It doesn't take much to give a striker like Ibrahimovic what he needs to punish a back line and score, so Pique will have to stay focused and on-task in this match.
Paris Saint-Germain are good and can give Barcelona problems, but they just didn't do enough in Paris to come back in this one, especially not at the Camp Nou. This one is going to end as a 2-1 Barcelona win.