Champions League

New-look Barca ready for Paris test

2014-09-29 09:16
Luis Enrique. Photograph: Getty Images.
Luis Enrique. Photograph: Getty Images.

Paris - Barcelona face their first big test of the Luis Enrique era when they face Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The Catalans looked sluggish in the 1-0 win against APOEL that kicked-off their Group F campaign a fortnight ago, but they travel to France having won six and drawn one of seven matches altogether this season, and are yet to concede a single goal under their new coach.

Their performance in tearing apart Granada in La Liga on Saturday, when Neymar scored a hat-trick and Lionel Messi netted twice in a 6-0 victory, would have made for ominous viewing for anyone with PSG connections.

"At the moment I don't see any player who isn't capable of putting in a good performance in Paris and that for me is an advantage," said Luis Enrique, who welcomes Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba back into his squad for the match at the Parc des Princes after both were rested against Granada.

That duo are both almost certain to start in a meeting of the two favourites to progress to the last 16 from the section, while there is no question of Messi, who is the only player to have started all seven games for Barca this season, being rested yet.

"I prefer to see him on the pitch until the last minute to press and participate in our collective play," added the coach.

"The temptation is there, it could happen at any point in the season, but his habitat is on the field."

The biggest doubt surrounds who will start in goal, with Claudio Bravo having kept a clean sheet in all six domestic games so far while fellow summer recruit Marc-Andre ter Stegen was preferred against APOEL.

Either way, the newly watertight Barcelona defence will expect to endure a tough evening in the first meeting of the clubs since the quarter-final clash in April 2013, when Paris came away with a draw in both legs but were eliminated on away goals.

Since then, Carlo Ancelotti has been replaced in the PSG dugout by Laurent Blanc, who played alongside Luis Enrique at the Camp Nou for a season in the 1990s.

PSG, like their opponents, are still unbeaten in the current campaign but all the pressure on Tuesday will be on Blanc, whose side are yet to convince this season and yet will be expected to take the game to Barca in front of their own fans.

Paris may already be a European superpower in financial terms but now they crave real success on the continent after being eliminated from the Champions League at the quarter-final stage in each of the last two seasons.

Meanwhile, a lack of motivation for the less glamorous challenges in store in Ligue 1 has been suggested by some as the reason for their sluggish recent displays, but a run of four draws in their last five matches includes a 1-1 stalemate at Ajax in their Group F opener.

On Saturday, Blanc rotated his squad and tried out a new formation against Toulouse but was only rewarded with another 1-1 stalemate.

"We are aware that last season we dominated the league and this year, with the same team and the same coach, we are not winning matches so easily," admitted Blanc, who played down talk that his side might now be fearing the prospect of facing Barcelona.

"Do we need to be worried because we didn't win? If we had won, we would maybe be more confident. Barcelona are a great team. Everyone knows that.

"Barcelona is a different competition, and even if we are having difficulty and certain things worry me, the spirit is good. The players are putting in a lot of effort, perhaps more than last season when they were winning matches 3-0 or 4-0."

The home side are not helped, however, by fitness problems to key players, with Ezequiel Lavezzi joining captain Thiago Silva on the sidelines.

In addition, former Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, PSG's talisman, has missed the last two games with a heel problem and is a doubt.

Read more on:    psg  |  barcelona  |  champions league  |  luis enrique  |  soccer

What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

01 November 2016
Besiktas v Napoli, Vodafone Arena 19:45
Borussia Mönchengladbach v Celtic, Borussia-Park 21:45
Benfica v Dynamo Kyiv, Estadio da Luz 21:45
Manchester City v Barcelona, Etihad Stadium 21:45
PSV v FC Bayern München, Philips Stadion 21:45
FC Basel v Paris Saint-Germain, St Jakob-Park 21:45
Ludogorets Razgrad v Arsenal, Vasil Levski National Stadium 21:45
Atlético de Madrid v FC Rostov, Vicente Calderon 21:45
02 November 2016
FC Porto v Club Brugge, Estadio do Dragao 21:45
Juventus v Lyon, Juventus Stadium 21:45
FC København v Leicester City, Parken Stadion 21:45
Legia Warsaw v Real Madrid, Pepsi Arena 21:45
Sevilla v Dinamo Zagreb, Ramon-Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Borussia Dortmund v Sporting Lisbon, Signal Iduna Park 21:45
Monaco v CSKA Moscow, Stade Louis II 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Wembley 21:45
22 November 2016
CSKA Moscow v Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Arena CSKA 19:00
Sporting Lisbon v Real Madrid, Estadio Jose Alvalade 21:45
Leicester City v Club Brugge, King Power Stadium 21:45
Dinamo Zagreb v Lyon, Maksimir 21:45
FC København v FC Porto, Parken Stadion 21:45
Sevilla v Juventus, Ramon-Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Borussia Dortmund v Legia Warsaw, Signal Iduna Park 21:45
Monaco v Tottenham Hotspur, Stade Louis II 21:45
23 November 2016
FC Rostov v FC Bayern München, Olimp-2 Stadium 19:00
Besiktas v Benfica, Vodafone Arena 19:45
Borussia Mönchengladbach v Manchester City, Borussia-Park 21:45
Celtic v Barcelona, Celtic Park 21:45
Arsenal v Paris Saint-Germain, Emirates Stadium 21:45
Napoli v Dynamo Kyiv, San Paolo 21:45
Ludogorets Razgrad v FC Basel, Vasil Levski National Stadium 21:45
Atlético de Madrid v PSV, Vicente Calderon 21:45
06 December 2016
FC Bayern München v Atlético de Madrid, Allianz Arena 21:45
Barcelona v Borussia Mönchengladbach, Camp Nou 21:45
Benfica v Napoli, Estadio da Luz 21:45
Manchester City v Celtic, Etihad Stadium 21:45
Dynamo Kyiv v Besiktas, Kiev Olympic Stadium 21:45
Paris Saint-Germain v Ludogorets Razgrad, Parc des Princes 21:45
PSV v FC Rostov, Philips Stadion 21:45
FC Basel v Arsenal, St Jakob-Park 21:45
07 December 2016
Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Monaco, BayArena 21:45
FC Porto v Leicester City, Estadio do Dragao 21:45
Club Brugge v FC København, Jan Breydelstadion 21:45
Juventus v Dinamo Zagreb, Juventus Stadium 21:45
Lyon v Sevilla, Parc OL 21:45
Legia Warsaw v Sporting Lisbon, Pepsi Arena 21:45
Real Madrid v Borussia Dortmund, Santiago Bernabeu 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v CSKA Moscow, Wembley 21:45
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Who will be the 2015/16 Champions League top scorer?

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.