By DAN KARELL
It’s a return trip to Paris for a number of Barcelona players who took part in Spain’s 1-0 win over France, which took place at the Stade de France in Paris’ northern suburbs. Now on the west side of the city near the River Seine, Barcelona travels to meet Paris Saint-Germain in UEFA Champions League quarter-final action.
PSG forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic gets the delight of facing his former club again, where he unceremoniously left for AC Milan in 2010 after just one season at the Camp Nou.
The Parc des Princes has not hosted a Champions League quarterfinals match since 1995, where perhaps fittingly, it was these two teams who faced off, with the French side winning 3-2 on aggregate. PSG enter the match with a 1-0 win over Montpellier last Friday, while Barcelona tied Celta Vigo on the road 2-2 last Saturday.
In Munich, the Allianz Arena will play host to another battle of European giants, with Serie A leading Juventus heading north to face Bundesliga leading Bayern Munich.
Both sides league form has been tremendous this season and with the exception of Bayern’s most recent Champions League match against Arsenal, the domestic play has carried over into Europe. Juventus is unbeaten so far in this edition of the Champions League, while Bayern are well on their way to making the final for the second year in a row.
The two clubs, each over 100 years old, carry about as much history and tradition as any European heavyweight matchup can hold; Six Champions League titles, 50 domestic league titles, and 24 national cups between them.
Bayern enter the match coming off their best win of the season, a 9-2 demolition job of Hamburger SV. Juventus comes to Munich off a 1-0 win over northern rivals Inter Milan.
Here is a closer look at today’s Champions League quarter-final matches:
PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN vs. BARCELONA
2:45pm, Fox Soccer Channel
Players to Watch: PSG – Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Lucas Moura, Javier Pastore; BARCELONA – Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, David Villa, Xavi Hernandez
Quick Kicks: PSG will be thanking their luck, as Ibrahimovic’s suspension was cut after his red card in the first leg of the round-of-16 against Valencia. Having served a one-match ban, the Swede is back in the lineup for both legs against Barcelona. David Beckham will likely start on the bench, while Lucas and Lavezzi return to the lineup after being rested for their last match. For the Spanish side, they’ll be without Carles Puyol, Adriano, and Pedro due to injuries and suspension, but they welcome the return of the walking wounded, including Xavi and Jordi Alba.
BAYERN MUNICH VS. JUVENTUS
2:45pm, Fox Soccer Plus, MSG Plus
Players to Watch: BAYERN MUNICH – Mario Mandzukic, Thomas Müller, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Frank Ribery; JUVENTUS – Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal, Alessandro Matri, Kwadwo Asamoah.
Quick Kicks: Bayern will come into the match boosted by the European return of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Jerome Boateng but lose Javi Martinez to suspension, meaning Luiz Gustavo will likely take the Spaniards place in the lineup. Juventus forward Mirko Vucinic has been battling the flu early this week, and is a doubt for the starting lineup. Sebastian Giovinco is also a doubt, after Inter Milan midfielder Estaban Cambiasso’s strong challenge last Saturday earned the Argentine a red card and forced Giovinco to the sidelines.
What do you think of today’s matches? See Barcelona winning on the road? Believe that Bayern can continue their goal-scoring prowess?
Share your thoughts below.