Paris Saint-Germain FC coach Carlo Ancelotti did not hide his excitement after the French side were paired with FC Barcelona in a mouth-watering UEFA Champions League quarter-final.
Given the panache with which the Catalan outfit dispatched Ancelotti's former club AC Milan on Tuesday to book their last-eight place the Italian would be forgiven a hint of trepidation; there was not a glimmer. "It's magnificent, we are delighted with the draw," he announced. "We know it will be very difficult, but this will be a great test for us.
Along with Real Madrid, they are competition favourites. They just have so many qualities – but we'll have our say."
The teams have met just three times in UEFA competition, Barcelona avenging their narrow 3-2 aggregate defeat in the 1994/95 European Champion Clubs' Cup quarter-finals with victory in the final of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup two years later. Ronaldo scored the only goal in Rotterdam from the penalty spot. They also faced each other in a pre-season friendly last summer, Barcelona prevailing on penalties after a 2-2 draw, but Ancelotti underlines the obvious, saying "it will be different this time around".
One thing Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta expects to be the same is that this tie should be equally tight. "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. They are very competitive and we'll be up against several players we know well."
Zlatan Ibrahimović, who spent 2009/10 at the Camp Nou, is chief among them, yet was merely among several names Barcelona full-back Jordi Alba listed when asked about the Parisians' qualities. He added: "PSG are a complete side who are defensively strong and have quality attackers. We have learned so much from the last round [against Milan] and must correct our mistakes.
PSG are obviously very difficult opponents but the draw looks good to me."
That seems to sum up the sentiment in both camps, with PSG sporting director Leonardo concluding: "It is the most difficult draw against the best team in the competition. It won't be easy, but we are looking forward to it because Paris deserves to be part of what will be a celebration of football.
We can measure ourselves against one of the greatest sides of all time. Barcelona are red-hot favourites, but anything can happen."
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