Barca vs PSG Preview & Prediction: Lionel Messi and Mbappe go H2H in the first leg at the Camp Nou
Barca lock horns with PSG after four years of the unprecedented 'La Remontada' in the first of two legs of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 at Camp Nou on Tuesday.
Barca vs PSG Preview
Lionel Messi will be the highlight of this high-profile fixture as reports suggest that the Argentine may be playing against his prospective club, PSG.
Barca boss Ronald Koeman has already expressed his disregard for the number of speculations made on Messi despite Messi having more than three months left on his contract.
Messi equaled another club record for Barcelona against Deportivo Alaves as he represented the Catalans for the 505th time in the Spanish top-flight, delivering the same number of appearances as the Barcelona midfield veteran Xavi.
The last confrontation between Barca and PSG was also one of the most controversial UCL fixtures with some bizarre refereeing errors and some clear decisions going against the Ligue 1 titans.
The fixture also is a responsibility for the home side as a promising performance here could convince their skipper and legend to tarry at the club that he has rendered with so many glorifying moments.
Barcelona are in a good place mentally at the moment but with crucial and character-defining fixtures coming up in the UCL, Messi and co will have a lot to prove. Their last season's UCL game against the German giants was a calamitous won as they were rattled by the sextuple winners Bayern Munich 8-2.
Barca vs PSG Head to Head
The Head-to-Head battles between Barca and PSG have been an intriguing one with Lionel Messi and Barca prevailing in four out of the nine games, while PSG have clinched victory in two. (three have been drawn)
However, the story seems something else when we compare the last five meetings, with Barcelona winning four of them.
A triumph over Alaves ensured Messi and Barca that things are still in control after they were put to no effect against Sevilla in the first leg of the Copa del Rey semi-finals.
Barca are 12 games unbeaten in La Liga and have just tasted defeats in two of their last 18 games in all competitions. They were also the runners-up of their Group in the UCL, only failing to win the group due to a worse head-to-head goal tally to Juventus.
On the contrary, despite laying a promising impact on his new side, Mauricio Pochettino came under scrutiny for his decision to permit Neymar to be a part of the PSG squad in the Coupe de France meeting, leading to the Brazilian's injury. Neymar is thus ruled out of the visit to his former club's home, Camp Nou where he once ruled the cules' hearts.
The last time PSG played a part in the UCL, things did not end up well as an Istanbul Basaksehir coach was racially abused by the fixture's fourth official leading to all the players walking off the pitch and propagated the message of not entertaining any kind of discrimination.
The replay of the fixture led to Neymar taking his team to the top spot by a scintillating hattrick on the night for the Brazilian.
PSG have lost only one of their last six games in all competitions, while Barca have an identical record too. However, PSG's defeat came in the second game on the run whereas Barcelona's came in their fifth.
Barca vs PSG Team News
Ansu Fati, Gerard Pique, and Philippe Coutinho are all sidelined. Sergino Dest will be available, while Ronald Araujo is a doubt. Samuel Umtiti will be back and the same can be expected from Pedri too.
Ousmane Dembele, Antoine Griezmann, and Lionel Messi will lead the lines, while we may see a cameo from Trincao too. PSG will be without the services of Neymar (adductor injury) and Angel Di Maria (thigh injury).
Marco Verratti is a doubt and Juan Bernat is out of contention too.
Barca vs PSG Prediction
Barca would want to make good use of Neymar and Di Maria's absence in the first leg as questions remain unsolved if and whether the PSG star would be available for the second leg. Barcelona look like they have overcome their mental barriers from last season's horrific defeat and the initial struggles.
Pochettino has a point to prove as a lot of people thought that his only Champions League final with Tottenham Hotspur was a fluke. He now has the players and the time to justify how good he can be. What is expected of him? Well, dismantling Barca and restraining fellow Argentine Messi from his goal appears as the short-term goals, while for the long-term, PSG would want nothing less than a UCL trophy.
Sportco predicts PSG to win the first leg against Barca.