With 93 minutes gone at the Parc des Princes last week, there wasn’t anybody willing to suggest that Paris Saint-Germian could possibly get to the Champions League semi-finals at the expense of Barcelona.
Xavi had rolled in a penalty just six minutes previously to put Barca ahead, and with it what would have been an unassailable advantage as the leaders of La Liga and Ligue 1 bid to reach the last four.
So just how important will Blaise Matuidi’s goal prove to be? For it was the French international’s late deflected strike – so late it was the last kick of the match – that not only landed our tip of laying Barcelona, but gave PSG a lifeline that they needed to stand any chance of progressing.
Without Matuidi’s intervention, this return leg at the Camp Nou would be a procession, but there is no denying that by taking a 2-2 draw to Spain, Carlo Ancelotti’s side have given themselves a fighting chance.
And perhaps, the most pivotal moment of this tie was the injury to Lionel Messi on the stroke of half-time.
The Argentine genius didn’t re-emerge for the second half thanks to a hamstring strain and although he resumed training on Monday, it remains to been seen if he is fit enough to take his place in the starting 11 and if he doesn’t, then those two things will give the former Chelsea boss some hope that he can cause a major upset and knock out the tournament favourites.
But even allowing for that, and Barcelona’s dodgy defence (just three clean sheets in 19), I just can’t find it within myself to back against Barca.
Away from home, yes, but at the Camp Nou they can turn in displays like few other sides and even without Messi, I can’t see past them ousting PSG.
Tito Vilanova’s side are 3/10 to win the match, with the draw at 9/2 and the away win at 29/4, and it is difficult to see that 3/10 not coming in – Barcelona are a cut above.
PSG need to win (unless they draw 3-3, which seems unlikely) and that is going to play right into Barca’s hands.
Even if Ancelotti will look to keep it tight – and he surely will initially – there will come a point when the Parisians will have to open up and that will allow the ruthless Catalans to put them to the sword.
I fancy that it will be a comfortable night in the end for Barca, and I’ll take the 87/100 they win by two goals or more.
In dire straits in the last round, the Primera Division leaders thumped AC Milan 4-0 after losing 2-0 away from home in a sensational performance at the Camp Nou, and any repeat of that will be too much for a good but not yet stellar PSG side to cope with.
As we know, sizeable Barcelona wins are the norm. Of their 25 league wins, 18 have been by two or more goals, with 12 of their 14 home victories coming by at least that margin.
And with PSG in ropey form on the road – they have lost two of their last five to lowly Rennes and Sochaux – I don’t think they can keep Barca at bay. Getting just under evens on Barcelona minus a goal looks fine by me.