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PSG's Lucas hopes for Raí smile against Barcelona

Published: Saturday 30 March 2013, 13.12CET
Lucas speaks to Champions Matchday about moving to Europe, how Leonardo lured him to Paris Saint-Germain FC and his hope of emulating Raí against FC Barcelona.

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Published: Saturday 30 March 2013, 13.12CET

PSG's Lucas hopes for Raí smile against Barcelona

Lucas speaks to Champions Matchday about moving to Europe, how Leonardo lured him to Paris Saint-Germain FC and his hope of emulating Raí against FC Barcelona.

Lucas has been at Paris Saint-Germain FC for only three months but he has already made a big impression and hopes to summon the spirit of Brazilian compatriot Raí when Carlo Ancelotti's men host FC Barcelona on Tuesday.

In March 1995 a goal from playmaker Raí set up perhaps PSG's finest hour on the UEFA Champions League stage. Having escaped the Camp Nou cauldron with a 1-1 quarter-final draw – in front of more than 100,000 – the French title holders' hard work looked like going unrewarded when they trailed in the Paris return leg 18 minutes from time. Step forward Raí, whose headed equaliser prised open the door to the last four, Vincent Guérin subsequently taking them through as 3-2 aggregate winners.

Almost 18 years on, another product of São Paulo FC's fruitful academy wishes to revive those memories in the last-eight rematch. Playmaker Lucas arrived in the French capital in January and has settled fast – even if he does not appreciate the climate. Yet it is the football he is here for, a "more competitive, tougher game" than he knew in Brazil.

If Europe's elite club tournament represents the apex of that, Lucas is enjoying every minute. "It's the best competition in the world, a pleasure and a dream to play in. I want to win it," said the 20-year-old, already capped 23 times by his country. "We have an opportunity now. We have a great team, a very capable team with great players, so we have everything to get further and we will prepare for it."

Lucas was much sought after last summer, with PSG eventually winning the €40m race thanks to another São Paulo connection: "[PSG sporting director] Leonardo convinced me to come. He called me many times, speaking about the club's plans and that encouraged me," he explained. "A club that's growing, with great players and with other Brazilians already here – that helped with my decision."

As did the promise of UEFA Champions League football. Lucas started both legs of the last-16 victory over Valencia CF, claiming an assist for Ezequiel Lavezzi's decisive goal. Now Barcelona await, and while he sees kinship with Lionel Messi "who shares my style of taking the ball and bringing it forward", it is Raí he intends to forge a bond with on Tuesday.

This is adapted from an in-depth Q&A with Lucas in the new edition of Champions Matchday, the official magazine of the UEFA Champions League. It is available in digital versions on Apple Newsstand or Zinio, as well as in print, and you can follow the magazine on Twitter @ChampionsMag.

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Last updated: 24/04/13 17.04CET

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