Wednesday night’s clash with Barcelona was always going to be tough for Paris Saint-Germain. Facing a strike force with over 60 goals between them in comparison to Edinson Cavani, who has gone over 600 minutes without a goal in Ligue 1, through suspension they have been dealt a blow that they will struggle to cope with.
Italian midfielder Marco Verratti is suspended for the first leg and by the time the two sides meet again in the Nou Camp, it may not matter.
The 22-year-old was one of the best players on the park in both the group games. In Paris he scored a great back post header and helped PSG control huge parts of the game.
In Spain, although PSG lost 3-1 on the night, it was the performance for Verratti that won most of the plaudits. Defensively superb, doing the job of two or three players, it is not worth thinking about what the score could have been without his presence in midfield.
With Zlatan Ibrahimovic also suspended for the first leg, his absence will catch the headlines, but it is Verratti who will be more crucial to the result. Without him and fellow Italian Thiago Motta, Barcelona could completely run riot in the midfield and without Verratti’s ability to get on the ball and pick passes, PSG may have even less of the ball than they did in the group stage.
Blaise Matuidi will need to be at his best if PSG are to stand any chance of getting a result. Everything needs to go in their favour, including Cavani ending his goal drought, but without support from midfield that looks like a long shot.
PSG: Sirigu – Van der Wiel, Marquinhos, Thiago Silva, Maxwell – Yohan Cabaye, Adrien Rabiot, Blaise Matuidi – Javier Pastore, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Edinson Cavani
Barcelona: Ter Stegen – Adriano, Pique, Mascherano, Jordi Alba – Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta – Messi, Neymar, Luis Suarez