The last time Barcelona hosted Paris Saint-Germain was one of the biggest returns in Champions League history.
The same teams will meet on Tuesday at the Camp Nou for the first time since Barcelona led PSG 6-1 nearly four years ago.
“This game will go down in history,” said Barcelona striker Usmane Dembele before the first match of this year’s round of the 16th. “There will be a rematch in the air because the media is trying to forge things. However, we do not talk about it in the team, because we know that it will be a difficult game. We know Paris, they are the current runners-up in the Champions League. They are among the favorites to win the trophy. “
Things changed after that match in 2017, with PSG getting closer to the title and Barcelona coming out in one of their worst seasons, once amid political turmoil and financial struggles. By the time PSG reached the final last season, Barcelona had lost to Bayern Munich 8-2 in the quarter-finals. The Catalan club has not reached the final since 2015, when it won its last European title.
Barcelona and PSG also met in the knockout round of the Champions League in 2013 and 2015, with the Spanish power plant coming out on top every time. PSG last advanced to Barcelona in the quarter-finals in 1995. Only Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund have faced more than one time in the Champions League since 2013.
Neymar was with Barcelona during this historic result with 6: 1 in the last 16, scoring twice and leading the club to victory after a 4-0 loss in Paris in the first match. He is now at PSG, but the Brazilian will not play on Tuesday due to injury. PSG will also not have striker Angel Di Maria available.
“I will not lie, I personally think it is better for a player like Neymar not to play,” Barcelona defender Jordi Alba said on Monday. “It’s an important absence for them, as well as for Di Maria, who is a great player and helps a lot in defense and insult.”
Barcelona also have some players removed, although captain Gerard Pique is likely to return to action after a long period of breastfeeding. Other absences for Barcelona include Ronald Araujo, Philippe Coutinho and Sergi Roberto, who scored their sixth goal five minutes after stopping to seal Barcelona’s 2017 return.
“It’s important for every team to have all your players available,” said Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman. “Di Maria and Neymar are great players, but there are also missing people who make us a stronger country. Both teams lack important players. “
The match against PSG comes at the perfect time for Barcelona. The team has recovered from a poor start to the season and has Messi in top form after scoring nine goals in the last nine games in all competitions.
“I have faith in my team and in my players. It’s clear that we’ve improved, the results have shown that, “said Coeman, whose team has won seven of its last eight matches in all competitions, with its only concession being a 2-0 loss to Sevilla in the first match of the Copa del Semifinals in Ray. last week.
Koeman said that all the talk about a possible transfer of Messi to PSG does not affect his team. The Argentine giants wanted to leave the club at the end of last season, but his request was denied. His contract expires this season.
“I’m not sure what the intention is, I’m not going into that,” Koman said. “I have to prepare my players, and Messi is a Barcelona player. And I have high hopes that he will stay with Barcelona. “
The Champions League title can help persuade Messi to stay, but first Barcelona will have to pass a familiar enemy who wants to prove himself against an old rival.