PSG-Barcelona: with the Spaniard Luis Enrique, the Parisians better armed?

 PSG-Barcelona: with the Spaniard Luis Enrique, the Parisians better armed?

 For his first season at PSG, the Spanish coach Luis Enrique faces Wednesday evening his former club where he played as a player and then coach, FC Barcelona, in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. A definite advantage for Parisians.


 As every year, spring is just beginning and Paris Saint-Germain is already playing its season. The Parisian club, leader of the championship, faces Wednesday, April 10 at 21 o'clock FC Barcelona in the quarter-finals of the Champions League - a competition that has eluded it for thirteen years now and the beginning of the Qatari era (2011).

 For PSG, it is a question once again of washing away the affront of the "remontada" of March 2017, when Barça qualified 6-1 for the quarter-finals of the championship. But seven years later, he has a great asset: the former coach of FC Barcelona Luis Enrique, at the origin of this Spanish feat, became the coach of the Parisian club. He knows the opponent perfectly, where he spent a large part of his career as a player and then as a coach. He was there by the way when Barça won the Champions League, in 2015 with the MSN (Messi, Suarez, Neymar).

"Luis Enrique brings this experience and this lived experience, in particular his management of the pressure in this type of appointment, explains Arthur Perrot, journalist at RMC Sport where he follows PSG. And he managed to set up a kind of bubble around his group to protect it, even if it means going to the front line himself."

 "The collective is more stable"

"On the other hand, when he arrived at PSG, the priority was put on the beautiful game while the European Cup was practically relegated to the background, it's one less weight on his shoulders," continues the specialist.

So it is surely with a slightly lighter mind that the PSG players will receive their opponent on Wednesday evening at the Parc des Princes. Especially since, leaders of the championship with ten days to go, PSG arrives in the Champions League with an almost empty infirmary, apart from Presnel Kimpembe and Nordi Mukiele (victim of a concussion on Saturday), and an attack (Dembele, Ramos, Mbappé) more and more effective.

"The collective is more stable. Now Mbappé can be benched, life within the team is going well. Luis Enrique has control of what is happening in the locker room, and it is very positive," analyzes Jimmy Algerino, former PSG right-back between 1996 and 2001 who became a sports consultant.

Nevertheless, there are slightly less certainties on the side of the Parisian defense. The club is without Achraf Hakimi, suspended, and several managers are returning from injury, such as the Brazilian defender Marquinhos or the Portuguese left-back Nuno Mendes. "They are players who come back at the right time, but there are no guarantees," said Arthur Perrot. To make up for Hakimi's absence, Luis Enrique could be tempted to use his young midfielder Warren Zaire-Emery in the right-back position, even if it is not his favorite position.

"The people of Barcelona have nothing to lose"

Opposite, FC Barcelona is not the most flamboyant. Second in La Liga, far behind Real Madrid, the team is rebuilding and relies on very young players, such as Lamine Yamal (16 years old), Firmin Lopez (20 years old) or Pau Cubarsi (17 years old). "They are players capable of mistakes. Against PSG in the European Cup, with a Kylian Mbappé who clearly targeted this appointment, it can be paid in cash," judges the journalist Arthur Perrot.

For his part, Jimmy Algerino recalls that FC Barcelona can rely on experienced managers like Lewandoski and Gündoğan, while the youngest can bring their passion: "You might think that a lack of maturity makes them outwit, but it can also allow you to be carefree and make incredible matches," believes the former PSG player. Especially since the Barcelona coach Xavi has already announced his intention to leave the club at the end of the season: "They have nothing to lose, so this match for them is only positive," adds the consultant.

One thing is for sure, the people of Barcelona can no longer rely too much on the psychological effect of the "remontada" to impress their opponents. Apart from Marquinhos, the current Parisian incumbents have all arrived after the fact. And if the second leg will be played well in Barcelona, it will not be at the Camp Nou, still under construction, but at the Olympic stadium in Montjuic. Luis Enrique will meet there for the first time Xavi, who was his teammate for 6 years at the blaugranas.


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