Paris: Paris Saint-Germain host Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday with their Spanish coach Unai Emery desperate to improve his awful personal record against the Catalans.
Emery was brought to the French capital last year as the successor to Laurent Blanc in order to help take PSG to the next level in Europe after four consecutive quarter-final exits in the Champions League.
But finishing second in their group behind Arsenal exposed PSG to a tougher draw in the first knockout round and now they must beat the Spanish champions — the second leg will be at the Camp Nou next month — just to make it to the last eight again.
Emery, the former Sevilla boss, has come up against Barcelona 23 times in his coaching career and won just once, in La Liga last season. Paris, meanwhile, have been knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona twice in recent campaigns, losing in the quarter-finals in 2013 and again in 2015 to Lionel Messi, Neymar and Co.
But there is a new-found confidence at the Parc des Princes after a fine start to 2017 which has seen them win 10 and draw one of their last 11 games in all competitions.
“We believe in ourselves and this game comes at a good time for us. If it had come at the start of the season I would have been more worried, but everything has changed,” PSG’s Italian midfielder Marco Verratti said.
The French champions have beaten Barcelona in the recent past, claiming a 3-2 win in the group stage in September 2014.
Dortmund strive for Benfica remedy
In Lisbon, Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel hopes the return of the Champions League will provide the jolt his inconsistent side need ahead of their visit to Benfica.
The Germans tormented opposing defences and finished above European champions Real Madrid in Group F after setting a new group-stage goals record. But, they have failed to reproduce their best form domestically.
The buoyant Benfica advanced with the fewest points (eight) of any team to this season’s knockout phase and are looking to reach the quarter-finals for the third time in six years....