UEFA Champions League preview: Barcelona v PSG
By Football News
Barcelona head into their midweek Champions League quarter-final clash with PSG buoyed by a 5-0 win over Mallorca in La Liga on Saturday.
The Catalans' European hopes were thought to be in jeopardy after star Lionel Messi suffered a hamstring strain in last week's 2-2 first-leg draw in Paris.
The Argentine is likely to miss Wednesday's return leg at Camp Nou, but Barca certainly did not feel his absence in a commanding display in Spain's top flight over the weekend.
Messi's injury leaves the second leg shrouded with an air of mystery but whether it will play into the hands of the visitors depends on how they choose to exploit his absence.
The Spanish giants hold the edge with their two crucial away goals but the manner in which PSG fought back last week - when Blaise Matuidi netted an equaliser four minutes from time - suggested there is still plenty of battle left in them.
Cesc Fabregas replaced Messi on Saturday and eased anxieties with a neatly taken hat-trick, while Alexis Sanchez chimed in with a double.
Barcelona will also be buoyed by the returns of defender Eric Abidal from a liver transplant and coach Tito Vilanova from cancer treatment.
PSG, meanwhile, continued their solid form in Ligue 1 with a comfortable 2-0 win over Stade Rennes.
Carlo Ancelotti fielded a largely second string side in preparation for Wednesday's clash, rotating Ezequiel Lavezzi, Javier Pastore and David Beckham, who the Italian insisted would start against Barcelona.
Brazil centre back Thiago Silva missed and is a doubt with a knee injury he sustained in the first leg, while first-leg hero Matuidi is ruled out through suspension.
Clement Chantome should come in to sit alongside Beckham in central midfield.