Barca hope to work miracles

Barcelona players (from left) Neymar, Lionel Messi, and Javier Mascherano training ahead of today's Champions League last-16 second-leg tie against Paris Saint-Germain.
Barcelona players (from left) Neymar, Lionel Messi, and Javier Mascherano training ahead of today's Champions League last-16 second-leg tie against Paris Saint-Germain.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

No team have ever overturned a 4-0 deficit in the Champions League knockout stages

BARCELONA • Three weeks after suffering a 4-0 humiliation by Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona still believe that a Champions League "miracle" is possible at the Nou Camp.

Since that fateful night in Paris, the Spanish football club have regained leadership of the Spanish Primera Liga as well as their confidence, ahead of the last-16 second leg clash today.

And, despite the news that Luis Enrique will no longer be their coach next season, Barca showed no negative effects as Lionel Messi led a 5-0 destruction of Celta Vigo on Saturday in arguably the club's best performance of the season.

"Hopefully we can produce a miracle," said midfielder Ivan Rakitic.

No team have ever overturned a 4-0 deficit in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

  • 15-0

    Barcelona's goals in three home Champions League matches this season:

    • 7-0: Celtic

    • 4-0: Manchester City

    • 4-0: Borussia Monchengladbach

"If they can score four goals against us, we can score six," said Enrique yesterday. "We have nothing to lose and a lot to win."

By announcing his decision to leave at the end of the season, Enrique has calmed the storm that raged as Barca were torn apart by a faster, more determined and precise PSG.

Now, everyone in Barcelona has the belief that the tie is far from over.

"With this team you have to always believe," said Barca sporting director Robert Fernandez.

"We have a hugely difficult result against us and play against a magnificent team, but in football anything can happen."

If there is one side in world football with the firepower to dream, it is Barcelona.

On top of Messi, Neymar came back into scoring form in the past week, while Luis Suarez already has 26 goals this season.

Indeed, the results from more than a third of Enrique's home games as Barca coach would be good enough to at least force the game to extra time. That includes all three Champions League games this season as they dismantled Celtic (7-0), Manchester City (4-0) and Borussia Monchengladbach (4-0).

Suarez is seeking inspiration from one of the best displays of the Enrique era as Barca thrashed eternal rivals Real Madrid 4-0 last season at the Santiago Bernabeu with Messi available only for the last half hour on his return from injury.

"If we were capable of scoring four goals against Madrid at the Bernabeu, why can't we score four against Paris at the Camp Nou?" the Uruguayan said.

PSG have won three times and drawn once since the first leg but could scrape only a 1-0 win over struggling Nancy on Saturday, which kept them second in Ligue 1 behind Monaco.

Midfielder Blaise Matuidi said the French champions were wary of the threat Barca could pose, despite their significant advantage going into the match.

"We believe in ourselves but we will also respect this team because we know they're capable of great things," the Frenchman said.

"The first few minutes will be important because they'll put us under pressure. We will experience some difficult moments, so we must prepare for that."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

BARCELONA V PSG

Singtel TV Ch112 & StarHub Ch212, tomorrow, 3.45am

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 08, 2017, with the headline 'Barca hope to work miracles'. Print Edition | Subscribe