2021 Champions League Round of 16 Predictions: PSG vs Barcelona
When PSG and Barcelona clash on Tuesday in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 matchup, it will mark the 12th all-time meeting between the two storied sides, with Barcelona winning four, PSG winning three and the teams drawing four other times. What’s more important, however, is that this is the first meeting since the now infamous quarterfinal matchup back in 2017. If you don’t remember, PSG dominated the first match at home and won 4-0. That meant that Barca had to win by four goals to force extra time, or five goals if PSG scored an away goal. The second leg was crazy. Barcelona went up 3-0 after 50 minutes before Edinson Cavani put PSG on the board in the 62nd minute. That goal meant Barca now had to find three more goals. A goal on 88 minutes from Neymar opened the door, then a 90+1 penalty from Neymar gave them hope and the miracle comeback was complete when Roberto scored in the fifth minute of stoppage time to make the score 6-1. Utter Chaos. If this two-legged tie is half as good as that one was, we are in for a treat.
As a football club, Paris Saint-Germain has had very little European success. They won the UEFA Cup Winner’s Cup back in 1995-96, but no Europa or Champions League titles to speak of. They came awfully close last campaign, though, as they lost to Bayern Munich 1-0 in August of 2020. With the budget and star players that PSG possesses, it’s hard to see them continuing to fail on the European front for much longer.
As for Barcelona… what can be said that hasn’t already been said about the five-time Champions League winner? Yes, we understand that the nucleus of the team is old and that there are many off-field issues, but they are still dangerous when given the chance to be. Barcelona got thrashed 8-2 on aggregate in last season’s Champions League by Bayern Munich, so we expect to see a side that’s looking for a little redemption.
As it currently stands, PSG is -140 favorites to advance to the quarterfinals. If you believe that PSG has what it takes to get over the hump this year and win the title, you can get a piece of them at +1200 which is fourth favorites behind Bayern Munich, Manchester City, and Liverpool If you can’t shake the fact that Barcelona is an underdog, they can be yours at +115 to qualify and +1600 to reach the summit of the European competition once again.
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First Leg: Camp Nou, Barcelona; Tuesday, February 16 @ 3:00 pm
Second Leg: Parc des Princes, Paris; Wednesday, March 10 @ 3:00 pm
When you think of PSG, you think of the abundance of talent they have throughout the lineup and you think about all of their close calls in the Champions League. This year, PSG have much of the same talent littered across the lineup, but it has been a challenge for them this year with a dip in form causing them to get off to a sluggish start in Ligue 1. The three-time defending Ligue 1 champions find themselves in second place right now, just a point back of Lille. They are still overwhelming favorites to capture their fourth straight French title, but it’s European glory that PSG craves the most. They come into this first leg against Barcelona in great form, having won four straight games and nine of their last 10. The problem for PSG is that they are dealing with injury problems to key guys at most of the important spots. They just lost Neymar for an extended period of time as he injured his groin in a Cup match in midweek. They are without the likes of Verratti, Di Maria, and possibly Rafinha, which leaves it up to Mbappe, Icardi and an untested Kean to lead the line and find the elusive goals.
Probable Starting XI: Navas; Florenzi, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Kurzawa; Gueye, Paredes; Kean, Draxler, Mbappe; Icardi
As for Barcelona, well, they are pretty far behind the runaway leaders in La Liga, currently sitting eight points adrift with one more game played. So, what does that mean for the Catalan side? Well, it’s essentially win the Champions League or bust for the Spanish giants. Look, for the longest time, Barcelona was the epitome of success on both the domestic and European fronts. But like every good thing, it must come to an end. The core of the group is approaching the end, and the distractions around the team pertaining to Messi’s contract/departure and the bankruptcy/debt talk has only hampered the side’s attempt to play soccer at the highest level. Barcelona are not exactly out of the La Liga race yet, as they’ve managed to string together 10 La Liga wins in a row, but they can’t make up any ground on Atletico Madrid. Barcelona comes into this game in solid form as well, having lost just one of their last eight matches – a first-leg Copa del Rey tie against Sevilla. On the injury front, Barcelona are relatively healthy (minus the long-term absentees) and should have a strong lineup fielded on Tuesday.
Probable Starting XI: Ter Stegen; Dest, Umtiti, Lenglet, Alba; Busquets, De Jong, Pedri; Dembele, Messi, Griezmann
PSG vs Barcelona Predictions
My prediction for this two-legged tie is that it’s going to be edge of your seat, can’t turn away football. Both teams love to attack and both teams aren’t exactly known for their defensive prowess. Both games should go over the total depending on what happens in the first leg. I believe PSG has the advantage of playing on the road first as away goals are crucial in this format. Typically, going to the Camp Nou is a tough place to win. However, without the fans and with a PSG team in fine form, I think they can eke out a result. I’d side with PSG to advance at -140 and look to play “over” the total in both games.
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