Paris Saint-Germain will be without their star Neymar when they travel to face his former employers, Barcelona, in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League knockout clash on Tuesday.
Both teams have a string of injuries affecting selections ahead of their last-16 matchup. However, the absence of Neymar, one of the Champions League’s joint-top scorers this season on six goals, from possibly both home and away legs could have the most grave impact on PSG.
What TV Channel is Barcelona-PSG on?
Barcelona welcome PSG in what’s sure to be one of the highlight fixtures of this year’s knockout stage, which will be available to watch via TUDN and Univision from 3 p.m. ET. You can live stream Champions League matches on fuboTV.
How to Watch Barcelona vs. Paris Saint-Germain
When: Tuesday, February 16
Where: Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain
Time: 3 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (watch for free)
Last season’s French finalists return to the Camp Nou with bitter memories of this venue, the site of “La Remontada” and the greatest comeback in Champions League history. It was during the round of 16 almost four years ago that Les Parisiens visited Catalonia with a 4-0 cushion, only to see their European dreams crushed under the heel of a 6-1 humbling by their second-leg hosts:
Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona are first up at home on this occasion, giving Mauricio Pochettino some advantage seeking a major upset in his first season at PSG. The Argentinian has defeated Barca once in 11 meetings as a manager to date (four draws, six defeats), but Tuesday’s meeting falls almost 12 years to the day since that sole victory when he was still at the Espanyol helm.
Coaches Koeman and Pochettino are just two of the new faces in this fixture compared to that of March 2017, with both clubs undergoing big changes since then. Neymar and Rafinha Alcantara have each swapped allegiances since then, but an adductor injury suffered during PSG’s recent Coupe de France victory at Caen means the former looks set to miss both legs:
Mauro Icardi should therefore start in a forward line including Moise Kean, who has scored winners in PSG’s last two matches. Kylian Mbappe also shoulders a heavy burden to spark their attack into life, this being his maiden meeting with the Catalan colossus in any competition.
Angel Di Maria is another key source of creativity who will miss out for the visitors, a big miss for the guests considering he’s recorded four goals and four assists in 16 meetings with Barca. That could mean Julian Draxler—who started at the Camp Nou in 2017—may keep his place in the XI after scoring in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Nice.
Marquinhos, Layvin Kurzawa and Marco Verratti are the only other PSG players who featured in their last trip to the Camp Nou and should play here, though the latter is only just back from a hip injury.
Barcelona finished second in Group G after losing 3-0 at home to Juventus in their last European outing, though Koeman has revived some hope of a title challenge in La Liga, where the club is unbeaten in 12 matches. That run includes a spree of successive wins in their last seven, and Lionel Messi looked back to his most devastating in a 5-1 fleecing of Alaves on Saturday:
While PSG’s issues center largely around their attack, Barcelona have several worries in defense given Ronald Araujo’s recent move to join Gerard Pique and Sergi Roberto on the treatment table. Frenkie de Jong has been preferred in defense by Dutch compatriot Koeman of late, seemingly moving ahead of Samuel Umtiti in the defensive pecking order.
Philippe Coutinho, Ansu Fati and Martin Braithwaite are also among their absences, meaning we should see a front three of Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele line up in the XI.
PSG drew 1-1 in their maiden visit to Barcelona and have lost in three trips since by an aggregate of 11-2, but they know as well as any other that the first-leg result alone won’t settle the fixture.