Paris Saint-Germain are on the verge of a second straight UEFA Champions League quarter-final, and Marco Verratti is relishing every moment of their campaign.
On Wednesday, Paris defend a 4-0 round of 16 lead at home to Bayer 04 Leverkusen. As they look to reach the stage where they lost on away goals to FC Barcelona last season, midfielder Verratti – signed from Serie B winners Pescara Calcio at the age of 19 in 2012 and thrown straight into the UEFA Champions League – explains what the competition means to him.
"The Champions League is certainly a very emotional competition to play in, especially your first matches, because every boy dreams of playing in the Champions League," Verratti, now 21, told UEFA.com. "The best European teams participate and so if you are in it, it means you have been doing well and you have to continue on that path. And although playing in it is great, it would be especially great to win it one day, of course."
Even the step up, Verratti enjoyed. "I thought there would be a big difference, but I think we can say that football has become very international. So all countries have been developing. Wherever you play, football is pretty much the same – it's the same ball, you play the same sport. There are no big differences."
Another similarity has been between the coach that signed him, Carlo Ancelotti, and his replacement this term, Laurent Blanc. "They are both pretty similar," the Italian international said. "They both want the team to play nice football and be successful. So we normally keep the ball on the floor and build up play from the back. That is what we like. They are two similar systems that we have played, and Mr Blanc has been continuing the work Mr Ancelotti started."
To hear more from Verratti on his stellar team-mates and being compared to the likes of Andrea Pirlo, click on the video player above.
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