Surprisingly, given their status as favorites to win the competition, Barcelona have struggled at times to reach the quarter-finals. They were forced to come from behind twice in the group stage (when they hosted Spartak Moscow and Celtic), and in the Round of 16 they had one foot out of the competition before mounting a historic comeback at the Camp Nou. Despite these difficulties, they should not be underestimated, especially since their coach will be returning before the quarter finals after being absent for more than two months to receive cancer treatment in New York.
PSG have their own strengths, though, and shouldn’t be underestimated. They’ve put together one of the most expensive teams in Europe and have several major superstars, most notably ex-Barca man Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who may feel like he has a bit of a point to prove, especially after Barcelona dropped his Milan out of the competition last season. They’re favorites to win Ligue 1 this season, and have an impressive record in the Champions League thus far, including having the best shots-goals ratio of the last eight.
By the numbers:
|Shots (on target)||121 (49)||102 (46)|
The first leg of the tie is on April 2 at PSG. The second leg at Barcelona will be played on April 10.
Barcelona will be playing relegation-threatened Celta Vigo, Mallorca, and Zaragoza around the two fixtures, and they have room to drop a couple points here and there if necessary without putting the league title in much danger.
PSG’s league title is far less assured – they only have four points on Lyon right now – and they’ll also be playing tougher opposition on paper. They face Montpelier ahead of the first match with Barcelona and Rennes in between the two quarter-final ties. Both teams are vying for a spot in Europe. Following the second match they’ll play relegation-threatened Troyes, who they probably won’t be too concerned about.
On paper, PSG actually look like they’ve got a decent shot. However, with Vilanova returning to the team, I think that many of Barcelona’s problems will resolve themselves, and as long as they don’t get complacent, they should be able to move on to the semi-finals once again.