PSG vs. Barcelona  2 - 2

Article

Ancelotti stands by Beckham inclusion

5 April 2013 19:04

Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti has defended David Beckham's performance against Barcelona in the Champions League.

January signing Beckham started in the 2-2 draw at home to Barca on Tuesday before being replaced by Marco Verratti after 75 minutes.

Ancelotti, who coached Beckham at AC Milan, was pleased with the former England captain's performance and dismissed suggestions he was forced to play him by the club's owners.

"Beckham had a very good game - he applied the strategy that I implemented," Ancelotti said.

"I don't understand the criticism against him, it is unfair. He could also play in the second leg. I was never asked by any owner - from (Silvio) Berlusconi, (Roman) Abramovich or Nasser (Al-Khelaifi) to put a player on the pitch.

"I'm not a fan or friend of Beckham; I am objective in my choices. It annoys me that people think like this. But I remain calm, very calm. Beckham deserves to play, even at 37.

"I have one sole objective: to help PSG win something. The league, the cup or even - our dream - the Champions League."

The Italian coach has also lauded centre-back Thiago Silva after his sterling performance against the Barca at Parc des Princes.

"Thiago Silva is the best defender in the world," Ancelotti said.

"The game against Barca was a normal display for him. He's quick, intelligent and very technical. He has all the qualities to be the best."

PSG are back in Ligue 1 action away to Rennes on Saturday.

Article

Barca complain to UEFA about ref

4 April 2013 21:49

Barcelona have written a letter of complaint to UEFA about the refereeing decisions made in the Paris Saint-Germain match.

Tito Vilanova's side recorded a 2-2 draw in the first leg of their Champions League quarter final tie in France, but Barca have claimed referee Wolfgang Stark 'did not know the rules of the game'.

Barca were unhappy with what they saw as a series of mistakes from the official, including Stark's decision to allow play to continue when two Barca players were off the pitch injured.

Regulations state that play should stop in that instance, while the official also allowed Zlatan Ibrahimovic's first goal to stand when it appeared he was offside.

"Barcelona have sent a letter of protest to UEFA regarding mistakes made by the referee in the game against PSG," the Barca spokesman said.

"We just want to express our surprise that professional referees do not know the rules of the game," he added.

Right-back Dani Alves had earlier claimed that the official had been influenced by comments from Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho.


Article

Beckham talks up PSG chances

3 April 2013 02:25

David Beckham is confident Paris Saint-Germain can progress in the Champions League after their 2-2 draw with Barcelona.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid player started on Tuesday as the Ligue 1 leaders twice came from behind against the Spanish giants, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Blaise Matuidi cancelling out goals from Lionel Messi and Xavi.

Barcelona have the advantage going into the second leg as a result of their two away goals, but the 37-year-old believes PSG can overcome the Catalans at Camp Nou.

He told ITV: "I think the draw was deserved. Obviously it was always going to be a game where they had a lot of possession, they have an amazing team and they played very well.

"In the first half, especially in the first 10 minutes, we had a few very good chances, if we'd have put one of those away then things might have been different but then they got their goal. Then it was a real battle.

"It's better than it was at 2-1. It's going to be difficult, but there's no reason we can't go there and get a result."

Beckham was delighted to compete with the likes of Messi and Andres Iniesta, and he hopes to face them again, though the Argentine striker is a doubt after his substitution at half-time with a hamstring injury.

"I was obviously very happy to start. The manager's always shown a lot of confidence in me, especially in big moments, tonight was a big moment for the club and I was happy to start," he said.

"I hope he (Messi) is not injured, I hope he's fit for any game coming up, we wish him well."

Article

Mascherano out for six weeks

3 April 2013 02:08

Javier Mascherano will miss six weeks after suffering a medial ligament tear in Barcelona's 2-2 draw with Paris Saint-Germain.

Mascherano was stretchered off in the closing stages of the Champions League quarter-final first leg clash at Parc des Princes, with Marc Bartra coming on to replace him.

The club have since confirmed the Argentina international has suffered a ligament tear in his right knee, ruling him out of action until the closing weeks of the season.

Mascherano had picked up a yellow card earlier in the second half on Tuesday evening, meaning he would have been suspended from the clash at Camp Nou next week irrespective of his injury.

The news comes as a bitter blow to Barca as their injury problems continue to mount. Lionel Messi was withdrawn at half-time with a hamstring problem, while captain Carles Puyol is unable to play again this season after undergoing knee surgery last month.

A last-gasp Blaise Matuidi goal secured the draw in Tuesday's game, after Xavi's late penalty and Messi's first-half strike had seemingly secured a win for the Blaugrana despite a goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Article

Roura unhappy with whistle blowers

3 April 2013 01:21

Barcelona assistant coach Jordi Roura was unimpressed with the officiating in the 2-2 draw with Paris Saint-Germain.

Referee Wolfgang Stark made several contentious calls in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, including allowing Zlatan Ibrahimovic's goal from an offside position to stand and awarding Barca a penalty in stoppage time after Alexis Sanchez was impeded by Salvatore Sirigu.

The Ibrahimovic incident particularly riled Roura, and he told reporters: "I hear that Ibrahimovic was clearly offside when he scored, by a few feet too.

"I remember what happened to us in our last match (against AC Milan in the round of 16). One goal came from a blatant handball, but the referee did not see it. And today, there were several refereeing decisions that were questionable."

Midfielder Sergio Busquets also echoed his trainer's sentiments, adding: "It is impossible that the referee did not see it (Ibrahimovic's goal), because he was one or two metres off."

But Andres Iniesta was in a more understanding mood towards Stark's performance, and preferred to focus on the positives of his team’s display.

"Did the referee decide the outcome? Football is full of mistakes and difficult decisions. Apart from that, our team played a great game," said the 28-year-old.

The second leg is at Camp Nou in eight days, but Barcelona will be waiting on the fitness of Lionel Messi, who picked up a hamstring injury and departed during the half-time break.

Article

Ancelotti blasts ´diver´ Sanchez

3 April 2013 01:02

Carlo Ancelotti has slammed Alexis Sanchez after he won a late penalty in the 2-2 draw at Parc des Princes on Tuesday.

The Chilean striker was brought down by Salvatore Sirigu late on with the scores level at 1-1, allowing Xavi to notch a second away goal before Blaise Matuidi's last-gasp equaliser.

Although replays showed there was contact between the players, Paris Saint-Germain coach Ancelotti insists the referee made an incorrect call, but claimed he is used to the former Udinese winger attempting to earn fouls.

"Alexis looked for the goalkeeper, it was not a penalty," he told Canal + after the match.

"It was a gift from the referee. We have experience with Alexis, in the friendly in August he also dived. We know him. He likes to dive. It is nothing new."

The Italian went on to praise his side's resolve on the night, insisting they proved they can compete at Barcelona's level ahead of the return leg at Camp Nou.

"It was a good game. We played well in the first few minutes but it got complicated. We used a lot of energy to level the score," he said.

"We have opportunities for the return game. It is still open, even if it will not be easy. We showed that we can compete against Barca.

"We will have to score twice there. We did it tonight, let's do it the same way in the second leg."

Director of football Leonardo was also proud of the team's display, and paid particular tribute to Ancelotti's tactics.

"We are very, very proud. We conceded when we were at our best in the game, and to come back in the game against Barcelona is not easy," Leonardo said.

"Carlo was amazing today. He studied Barcelona hard, and it is true that if you look at the game, we had a nearly perfect strategy.

"We had one goal when we were the best. But if you leave a few millimetres to (Lionel) Messi, this is what happens.

"I believe that after all we've been through in the past few months, today is truly a wonderful thing, because it is not easy to build a team. We are very proud of our game, our behaviour, our approach to the game.

"It is true that it is very difficult there (at Camp Nou). But you never know. With this spirit, we'll try everything."

Article

Thiago says PSG can follow Milan´s lead

2 April 2013 10:37

Thiago Silva believes his former club AC Milan have taught football a lesson in how to topple Barcelona.

The Brazilian's Paris Saint-Germain side are clear underdogs against the runaway La Liga leaders in Tuesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg.

But Thiago insists Tito Vilanova's team are far from unbeatable and Milan's successful strategy in the 2-0 home leg of their last-16 clash gives PSG genuine hope of an upset.

"Everybody knows what Barcelona are capable of. They have been an amazing side in the last few years," he told Goal.com.

"The group is full of quality players and their philosophy is admirable. But in football there is no such thing as an unbeatable side.

"They had to work hard to overcome Milan and I think that they showed other teams that it is possible to hurt Barcelona.

"To win against them we have to cut their space and not allow them to be comfortable on the ball. It's easier said than done, but this is the way we will have to play to come out on top.

"We have the players and we have the will. PSG want to make history and there is a good chance ahead of us."

Thiago, 28, joined big-spending PSG last summer after three years at San Siro and previously played and scored in the Serie A side's 2-2 draw with Barcelona in the Champions League group stage in 2011.

The defender was also part of the Milan squad which lost last season's quarter-final 3-1 on aggregate to the Catalan giants after drawing 0-0 in the home leg.

He said: "I have good memories of playing against them. We had two incredible games in the 2011-12 Champions League, especially the one at the Camp Nou, when I scored an equaliser in the 92nd minute.

"Some Italians have asked me if I feel like avenging Milan for the 4-0 defeat (in this season's last-16 second leg). But there’s no such thing as revenge.

"I am grateful for everything Milan gave me. My career took a huge leap there. But my mind now is set on helping PSG fight to go as far as we can in the tournament.

"There have been a lot of changes in the club and we had to adapt to them. But the side has been away from the Champions League for a long time and we really don’t want to stop at the quarter-finals."

Thiago also dispelled any doubts about his fitness following a thigh problem he had at the start of this year.

"I am feeling much better know. My muscle injury in January left me out for a good couple of weeks and when I returned for the second match against Valencia (in the last 16) I was not fully fit," he said.

"I had to time my movements to avoid having to run too much. But I am fine now and I wouldn’t miss the Barcelona game for anything."

Article

Villa welcomes Vilanova return

2 April 2013 06:15

Barcelona's David Villa is delighted at the return of coach Tito Vilanova as his side prepare to face PSG in the Champions League.

Vilanova is in line to take charge of Tuesday's quarter-final in his first game since undergoing treatment for cancer in the United States.

"You can imagine that it's a huge joy for us that he (Tito Vilanova) is back here with us, because he is our boss, our manager, and when the boss is with the team it is always much easier especially in this key period," Villa said.

"In these months, when we are going to be playing the most important part of the season, it is great to see him all right, looking happy and healthy.

"There is a great feeling seeing him here and we are able to enjoy having him with us and we expect that from now on everything will be ok, and he carries on getting better with his health improving each day."

The 31-year-old Spanish international also played down the fact that his side are strong favourites to progress in the tie, insisting that nothing matters other than their performance on the pitch.

"In a competition such as this, at this high level, it is complicated analysing who is the favourite team in a leg," Villa said.

"All the teams that arrived here came because of their own merits and anyone can eliminate the other and get into the final.

"However, I have always been of the same opinion: it does not matter who is the favourite before the referees whistle goes.

"The history between two opponents also doesn't matter, because Tuesday's match will be different from other games in other years and in other times and the favourite will be decided on the pitch."

Article

Ancelotti: PSG not focused on Messi

2 April 2013 00:35

Carlo Ancelotti insists Paris Saint-Germain are not preparing a special game plan to keep Lionel Messi at bay.

PSG and Barcelona clash in Paris in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday but Ancelotti has denied he is singling out the super striker for special treatment.

The Argentine,- who broke another record on Saturday by netting in his 19th successive Liga game, has scored 56 goals in all competitions this season, including seven in the Champions League.

But Ancelotti, speaking to reporters at a press conference on the eve of the clash, says PSG will not tweak their system in a bid to silence the forward.

"We are focused on our own game and the match itself, not individual opponents," he said.

"The tactical approach does not change depending on a player or not. Our approach will be the same."

The Italian then suggested the Catalans will face an equally difficult test in trying to keep Zlatan Ibrahimovic quiet, with the Sweden international enjoying a prolific season of his own, having netted 33 times in 39 games in all competitions.

"You could also ask the question how will Barca stop Ibrahimovic? It will be very difficult for the Barca players," he added.

The 53-year-old also acknowledged the impact finances have had in establishing les Parisiens as one of Europe's elite clubs.

Ancelotti continued: "I think it is simple. The club needed to invest in order to be competitive. I do not know how far we can go, but we are already very happy to be in the quarter-finals.

"I think the club has done a good job to ensure that this team can compete with the best in Europe."

Article

Vilanova back for Barca in Paris

1 April 2013 22:21

Jordi Roura says Tito Vilanova will return to the dug-out for Barcelona's Champions League quarter-final clash with Paris Saint-Germain.

The Blaugrana, who travel to the French capital for the first leg on Tuesday, will be boosted with the news that their coach will make a long-awaited return to the bench after spending the past 10 weeks undergoing throat cancer treatment in New York.

"Tito Vilanova will be on the bench tomorrow, no doubt: he's the boss, and we're very happy to have him back with us," Roura told reporters at a press conference.

The stand-in boss then warned the Catalans that they will have to be at their very best if they are to emerge victorious against the big-spending Ligue 1 leaders.

"We'll have to be at 100 per cent if we want to be able to win," he said.

"It's very important for us to have reached this stage of the competition, and we're very happy to be here, in Paris. It's a great team with top players, such as (Javier) Pastore, (Ezequiel) Lavezzi and so on."

The 45-year-old then acknowledged the versatility of Carlo Ancelotti's team and admitted they have more than one gameplan capable of causing his side problems.

"PSG are quick on the break and strong in the air, especially with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva, but those are only two of their options: they have a lot more tricks up their sleeve," Roura said.

"We'll have to adapt a bit, of course, but we won't change the way we play - although we have studied their game carefully."

Roura also revealed that a decision is yet to be made on whether Jordi Alba and Xavi will make their respective returns from injury on Tuesday.

"Jordi Alba and Xavi Hernandez had knocks, but they are coming on well. They were rested last weekend for this, but we'll only make a decision tomorrow, after the final training session."

Article

Silva wary of versatile Barcelona

1 April 2013 12:38

Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva has warned his team-mates Barcelona are always capable of doing the unexpected.

The Brazil international is full of respect for the La Liga giants, but is nonetheless hopeful of springing a surprise in the UEFA Champions League quarter-final.

"Barca are so versatile they're capable of doing something completely unexpected, which can end up making you look silly," Silva told Fifa.com.

"They've got the best team in the world, the best player, and several others who help him out with their passing and movement.

"In any case, we're going to focus on the first leg, try and get a great result at home and then try and clinch qualification at Camp Nou.

"Barcelona are always favourites, whatever team they're playing against. And they deserve to be too, thanks to their recent track record and the incredibly high standards they hit.

"But I always say that this (favourites' status) is an off-the-pitch thing. On it, we've got the chance to turn that on its head. They'll be two tough games between two great teams.

"They'll be aiming for the title, just as we are, so we'll be trying to stop them.

"We've maybe got a little less experience than they do, but we've got a quality squad packed with players used to decisive matches."

Article

Barcelona not perfect, says Lucas

1 April 2013 11:50

Paris Saint-Germain star Lucas Moura is optimistic about his side's chances of reaching the Champions League semi-finals.

Barcelona are one of the favourites to win European club football's elite competition this season, but the Brazil international believes there are weaknesses which can be exploited when the sides meet in the quarter-final first leg on Tuesday.

"Barcelona have a number of great players and play some of the best football in the world," Lucas told El Mundo Deportivo.

"However, each team has its shortcomings. There is no such thing as the perfect team.

"I have no doubt that (Carlo) Ancelotti will give us all the information needed to take advantage."

Lucas spoke about his admiration for former PSG and Barcelona forward Ronaldinho, whom he hopes to emulate during his career in Europe.

"Ronaldinho is a great player who has made history and continues to do just that," he said. "He's an example to follow. He made his mark at PSG first, and then became the best player in the world at Barcelona.

"I can only hope to have a career like he had. I have only just started out and I always try to take notice of the careers of other great players."

Article

Alves slams Barcelona critics

1 April 2013 11:37

Barcelona defender Dani Alves has hit back at critics who suggest his side are a fading force after a patchy run of form.

Although Tito Vilanova's side produced a majestic performance to beat AC Milan 4-0 in the second leg of their last-16 Champions League tie, they were criticised for a lacklustre display in the 2-0 defeat at San Siro and were also held 2-2 by La Liga strugglers Celta Vigo on Saturday.

But Alves told Goal.com: "People said a lot of things about us after the first leg against Milan and we obviously heard the good and the bad comments.

"Of course football is a results business but people's memories are not very sharp. Everything Barcelona have done so far all of a sudden gets sidelined by a couple of bad results.

"The only way we can address that is to keep winning games and trophies. Barca have gone through changes, but the field is really even these days with opponents who are always trying harder and harder.

"Having said that, we are in a very good position in the league and are playing in a Champions League quarter-final, which is not bad at all."

Despite only taking a point at Celta Vigo, Barcelona remain runaway leaders in their domestic title race and are favourites to overcome big-spending Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League ahead of the first leg in France on Tuesday.

"I am not a fortune teller, so there is no point in speculating on the result," he said.

"Opponents in the Champions League are always tough and PSG have invested a lot to build a team. They have reached the quarter-finals so we cannot take anything for granted."

Article

UEFA Champions League preview: PSG v Barcelona

1 April 2013 08:41

Paris Saint-Germain face the ultimate test as they host Barcelona in the first leg of a highly anticipated quarter-final tie on Tuesday.

Like the Bayern and Juventus match-up, both sides are top of their respective domestic leagues with Barcelona 13 points clear on top of La Liga while PSG lead Ligue 1 by seven points.

The Qatari-backed French giants have had a slight dip in form, only winning two of their past five games, but got over the line 1-0 against last season's champions Montpellier on Friday.

PSG's progression to the quarter-finals was made easier by the 2-1 away triumph in the first leg of their round-of-16 clash against Valencia and despite conceding first in the return match at home, Carlo Ancelotti's side sealed progression with a 1-1 draw.

Barcelona could only manage a 2-2 draw in La Liga against Celta Vigo on Saturday but were able to rest key players such as Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Javier Mascherano.

The Spanish powerhouses' passage to the last eight was anything but straightforward when they travelled to AC Milan for the first leg and were comfortably beaten 2-0 by a superb counter-attacking performance.

But just as true champions do, Barca answered the challenge with a 4-0 win at Camp Nou to seal their place in the quarter-finals and earn the right to be competition favourites.

Barcelona coach Tito Vilanova will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on PSG's mercurial talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who spent two seasons at Barcelona from 2009-2011 and played with most of the current players.

Ibrahimovic has been in deadly form in Ligue 1, smashing in 25 goals in 27 goals, and is capable of producing that moment of brilliance that will be required to give PSG a chance in the tie.

With the Barca defenders keeping a close eye on the Swedish maestro, their PSG counterparts will have their hands full with arguably the world's best player – Lionel Messi.

Messi has again scored at an astronomical rate, netting an unbelievable 43 goals in 29 league games and also contributing seven goals in eight Champions League encounters.

Limiting Messi's output will go a long way to giving PSG a chance of getting off to a great start in front of their home fans.

The two sides have never met before in a competitive match but played out a 2-2 friendly draw back in August 2012.

Barcelona's away form has been patchy of late and with PSG's firepower up front, it is highly possible that this game could end in a draw.

It is important that PSG limit the away goal damage done by Barcelona as the Spaniards are very difficult to beat at Camp Nou.

Article

Pastore keen to lock horns with Messi

31 March 2013 20:52

Javier Pastore says he is excited about playing against Argentina team-mate Lionel Messi when Paris Saint-Germain host Barcelona on Tuesday.

PSG will be hoping to emulate AC Milan's home win against Barca but avoid their subsequent collapse at Camp Nou when the two European giants clash in their Champions League quarter-final.

"He's the best player in the world," Pastore responded when asked about Messi by PSG's official website. "He shows it match after match.

"For us Argentines, he is a reference and an example. I am delighted to be playing against him, it will be a very special moment for me. There will be a little emotion there for me.

"We will have to remain focused for 90 minutes. You have to stay calm when they have the ball. Barcelona are a team that exploit the smallest error from the opposition to score. From that moment, it is very hard to come back."

PSG are naturally the underdogs against the 2010/11 Champions League winners, but Pastore is confident that a semi-final berth is not beyond the squad.

"At this level of the competition, every team is strong, but anything is possible," he said. "We need to play two great matches of football.

"If we stay focused we will have reason to hope we'll go through. It's the only way of getting through this round."

The other three quarter-finals are Borussia Dortmund against Malaga, Real Madrid play Galatasaray and Bayern Munich clash with Juventus.

Article

Matuidi: We´ll be ready for Barca

30 March 2013 14:58

Blaise Matuidi says Paris Saint-Germain will be going all out to upset Barcelona in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Barca visit Paris for the first leg of the quarter-final tie on Tuesday.

The Ligue 1 pace-setters recorded a hard-fought 1-0 victory over champions Montpellier on Friday, but the midfielder does not believe the intensity of that game will impact on their performance against the Catalan giants.

"It will be a very big game. We know that it will be very difficult, facing the best team in the world. We hope that everyone will be behind us. We will be at 150 percent," he told RMC.

"We hope that it will be a great game because it will give us the best chance of claiming a positive result."

The former Saint-Etienne star acknowledged the large number of Spain stars in the Barca squad - many of whom he faced on international duty with France last week - but urged his colleagues not to underestimate their other stars.

"There will be plenty of Spain internationals, it's true. But they still have other players like (Lionel) Messi, Dani Alves and (Javier) Mascherano - all of whom are top-notch players," he said.

"We will play to our strengths and we will try to thwart them to the maximum."

Article

Tough win good for PSG, says Ancelotti

30 March 2013 01:29

Paris Saint-Germain coach Carlo Ancelotti believes his side's win over Montpellier is perfect preparation for their clash against Barcelona.

The Ligue 1 leaders toiled for long periods at Parc des Princes on Friday but Kevin Gameiro's late goal earned them a 1-0 victory that moves them eight points clear at the top.

PSG were made to work hard for the three points but that is a good thing according to Ancelotti, particularly with the visit of Barca for the Champions League quarter-final first leg in mind.

"It's never easy to prepare for a game which takes place just before a Champions League fixture," the Italian said.

"We showed a good mental attitude. We took three very important points in terms of the table and also to prepare for Tuesday's match against Barcelona with a good atmosphere around the place.

"It was a good performance."

Ancelotti's sentiments were echoed by those of his compatriot, goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.

"It was a tough game because there were so many players involved with their national sides this week. So, it was not easy, but they are three important points that allow us to go forward," he said.

"Now we must focus on the game on Tuesday against Barcelona because it will be very difficult."

PSG host Barca in the French capital on Tuesday before travelling to Camp Nou for the return leg on April 10.

Montpellier coach Rene Girard was proud of his side's performance and said it was one mistake which cost them in Paris.

"We played to our strengths and gave it our all, fighting for everything. We conceded after a mistake in midfield," he said.

"I'm very pleased with the way the lads played and we caused problems for PSG. We didn't win but we played well."

Article

Chantome excited about Barca test

29 March 2013 14:24

Paris Saint-Germain defensive midfielder Clement Chantome says his side cannot wait to take on Barcelona in the Champions League.

PSG welcome Barca to Parc des Princes on Tuesday, but first the Ligue 1 leaders face the task of beating Montpellier in the league as they continue the hunt to be crowned champions.

However Friday night's clash is not on many players' minds as the excitement begins to build, according to the 25-year-old.

"It's good for everyone that we can play this kind of exceptional fame. In the locker room, it's about Barcelona. Everybody thinks (about it)," Chantome told L’Equip.

"In the street, people stop us and tell us that that they even forget the Championship.

"As players, we have never received so many calls from friends to give them places."

Article

UEFA reduce Ibrahimovic ban

26 March 2013 19:01

Paris Saint-Germain star Zlatan Ibrahimovic has had his two-game UEFA ban reduced to one match.

The former AC Milan striker was sent off in the dying minutes of Paris Saint-Germain's 2-1 victory over Valencia in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie, and was subsequently handed a two-match suspension.

However, after a successful appeal from the Ligue 1 club, the punishment has been reduced to just one game, meaning he will be available for both last-eight legs against former club Barcelona.

Ibrahimovic served the ban in the reverse fixture against Valencia.

"The UEFA Appeals Body has accepted the appeal lodged by Paris Saint-Germain against a two-match ban meted out to striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, reducing his suspension to one game," a UEFA statement read.

"The 31-year-old striker had incurred the original penalty from the Uefa Control and Disciplinary Body after being dismissed in the closing seconds of PSG's 21 round-of-16 first-leg victory at Valencia.

"He will now be available fo rthe French side's quarter-final opener against his old team, Barcelona."

Article

Papin: PSG a ´real chance´ against Barca

17 March 2013 13:22

Former France international Jean-Pierre Papin believes Paris Saint-Germain are capable of eliminating Barcelona from the Champions League.

Papin, a Ballon d'Or winner in 1991 while at Marseille, insists the Ligue 1 leaders have enough quality to take them past Barca, even with Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended for the first leg.

"Those who think that PSG have no chance are deceiving themselves," Papin told Le Parisien.

"Even if Barcelona have a 70 percent chance of qualification, with a performance like in the first leg at Valencia, PSG still have a real chance.

"Big players always light up special occasions and Paris Saint-Germain have some great players."

The quarter-final first leg will be played at Parc des Princes on April 2 and, with Ibrahimovic's suspension hanging over the tie, many, including Rolland Courbis, are less enthusiastic about PSG's chances.

"Without Zlatan in the first match, PSG have a one in a hundred chance of winning – especially if the Barcelona who beat AC Milan 4-0 turn up," he said.

Article

PSG´s Leonardo laments drawing Barca

15 March 2013 16:13

PSG sporting director Leonardo says the draw for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League could not have been harder on his team.

The current leaders Ligue 1 leaders are up against Spanish giants Barcelona, who lead La Liga by a massive 13 points.

PSG progressed to the quarter-finals after prevailing 3-2 on aggregate against Valencia, while Barcelona overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit to advance 4-2 at the expense of AC Milan.

"Well, it couldn't have been worse," Leonardo said. "It was impossible to get it worse I mean from the sporting point of view.

"We have to play the best team well we may be talking about the best team of all time.

"Therefore playing Barcelona, especially for us, we are just getting started with our project after plenty of years out of Europe so we'll consider this opportunity as a celebration, a chance to play versus the best team in the world and try and see what happens."

Leonardo though, thinks the pressure is all on Barcelona's star-studded side to perform in the quarter-final showdown.

"The past three years Barcelona have been there," he said.

"They have Messi, Iniesta, and Alves what can I say? So yes, definitely pressure will be on them this time."

Meanwhile, Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta says Paris Saint-Germain will be tough opponents in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Barcelona will travel to the French capital for the first leg and Zubizarreta believes playing the second at leg at home will be an advantage, but concedes the PSG are a dangerous proposition.

"We have to look on playing the return game in Barcelona as being positive," Zubizarreta told reporters.

"PSG have very good players with a lot of talent. With their experience and knowledge of playing these types of games I am sure they will be challenging right until the end (of the tie).

"They are very competitive and we will be coming up against several players we know quite well."

The former Barca goalkeeper also believes every side left in the competition is there on merit but the most important thing for his team is to ensure their name is in the hat for the semi-final draw in a few weeks' time.

"The teams that have reached the quarter-finals are there because they have done well," Zubizarreta said.

"The draw can be seen as both good and bad, it all depends on whether we are back in Nyon for the semi-final draw in three weeks or not.

"We have just experienced something in the round of 16 that demands us to be prudent."

The first leg will take place at Parc des Princes on April 2, with the return fixture at Camp Nou on April 10.

Article

Kluivert: PSG will struggle at Barcelona

15 March 2013 16:04

Patrick Kluivert believes Paris Saint-Germain face an uphill battle in their Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona.

In an exclusive interview with Goal.com, Kluivert insists with their talisman Zlatan Ibrahimovic ruled out of the first leg, and the second one being played at Camp Nou, it will be hard for the Ligue 1 side to progress.

"It's going to be very difficult. Without Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the first game in their own stadium will be difficult, but the most important thing is that they play the second game in Barcelona, playing on a pitch which is 105 metres by 68 metres," Kluivert told Goal.com.

"It's very difficult to defend on that, because if you defend in the midfield you give them more space between the lines. If you defend outside, you leave space inside, so it will be very difficult to work out how they can beat Barcelona."

The 36-year-old believes the difference in pitch size between Camp Nou and San Siro was also a key factor in the differing results in Barcelona's last-16 tie with AC Milan.

"The pitch at San Siro is a lot smaller and that wasn't good for playing their possession game," Kluivert said.

"But at Camp Nou they cut the grass with scissors – it's like a snooker table. And that's what's right for their possession game. If they are feeling good and their players are ready, you will have difficulties."

Kluivert was in Nyon to make the draw for the quarter-finals of the Europa League, and he believes an all-English final is a distinct possibility.

He said: "It's very possible because if I had drawn two English teams then one English team was already out, so it's very possible that we could have an English final."

Article

PSG, Barca in quarter-final showdown

15 March 2013 12:46

Paris Saint-Germain will take on Barcelona in the standout tie of the Champions League quarter-finals Friday's draw in Nyon.

Barcelona, who won the competition in 2011 and overturned a 2-0 deficit to dump out AC Milan this season, will face Ligue 1 outfit Paris Saint-Germain with the first leg taking place in the French capital.

Last season's finalists Bayern Munich face a tough clash with Serie A leaders Juventus in another huge fixture.

La Liga champions Real Madrid were rewarded for their victory over Manchester United with a tie against Turkish giants Galatasaray, while Malaga - who knocked out Porto - take on German champions Borussia Dortmund.

The four first legs will take place in March, with the second legs scheduled for April 9 and 10.

The draw for the semi-finals will be held on April 12, and the tournament concludes at Wembley Stadium on May 25.

Ligue 1 table

# Team MP D P
1 2 +4 6
2 2 +4 6
3 2 +2 4
4 2 +1 4
5 2 +1 4

Primera División table

# Team MP D P
2 0 +0 0
3 0 +0 0
4 0 +0 0
5 0 +0 0
6 0 +0 0