Paris Saint-Germain vs Barcelona Women's Champions League preview
Saturday, 24 April 2021
Paris Saint-Germain, fresh from ousting Lyon, face a Barcelona side having a stellar season.
Article top media content
Last Sunday, Paris Saint-Germain ended Lyon's five-year reign as UEFA Women's Champions League holders but now face a Barcelona side much advanced from the side that fell at the semi-final stage four years ago to the club from the French capital.
Paris went into the delayed second leg at Lyon 1-0 down and conceded early in the game; but from then on they dominated and a 2-1 victory, and away goals success, was fully deserved. Kadidatou Diani is out injured but the younger two of the exciting Paris attacking trio, Sandy Baltimore and Marie-Antoinette Katoto, are in fine form with plenty of experience to back them up, including not least the 43-year-old phenomenon Formiga, as well as possible options Ramona Bachmann and Nadia Nadim. In goal, Christiane Endler has 17 clean sheets from 21 games this season, and the last time anyone other than Lyon has beaten Paris over 90 minutes in any competition was Chelsea in March 2019.
However, Paris will need all their defensive prowess against a Barcelona team with 156 goals from 33 games this season, incuding 22 in their last three despite Asisat Oshoala's absence following foot surgery. With this season's competition joint-top scorer Jenni Hermoso as prolific as ever, Alexia Putellas in superb form and options including Caroline Graham Hansen and Lieke Martens (not to mention former Paris player Kheira Hamraoui), 2019 runners-up Barcelona boast a squad that has developed some way since their 5-1 aggregate loss to their opponents in the 2017 semis. However, midfielder Patri Guijarro is suspended for the first leg with Andrea Falcon the only confirmed injury absence.
Paris Saint Germain
Last six games: WWWLWW
Last match: Lyon 1-2 Paris Saint-Germain (UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-final second leg), 18/04
Where they stand: 1st in Division 1 Féminine
Last six games: WWWLWW
Last match: Barcelona 6-1 Granadilla Tenerife, 20/04
Where they stand: 1st in Primera División, Copa de la Reina quarter-finals
Paris : Endler; Lawrence, Paredes, Dudek, Morroni; Däbritz, Formiga, Geyoro; Baltimore, Katoto, Huitema
Barcelona : Paños; Torrejón, Pereira, León, Ouahabi; Bonmati, Hamraoui, Putellas; Graham Hansen, Hermoso, Caldentey
View from the camps
Olivier Echouafni, Paris coach: "I compare this [Barcelona] team to the Barça men of ten to 12 years ago with Xavi and Iniesta, with a lot of mobility and technique. I am in awe of this style, of what Lluís Cortés has put in place with this team. In this team there are great individuals. I am thinking of Graham Hansen, a great player, of Putellas, who commands the game, Jenni Hermoso, Kheira Hamraoui, and so on."
Ashley Lawrence, Paris defender: "I think everyone wants to win this Champions League to show that we are really the best team in Europe. For us, winning everything is always a goal and this year, we are on a good track on all fronts. We are leading the league, we also are doing well in Europe. I think it's a really big test for us. But the priority is to stay focused on Sunday's game."
Lluís Cortés, Barcelona coach: "We know that Paris have huge physical power, a very high pace of play, a lot of speed. They will be two very demanding matches, different from all the ones we play in the league. We both see a unique opportunity to reach the final of the Champions League and to win it. "
Kheira Hamraoui, Barcelona midfielder: "We expect a team that will put pressure on us throughout the game. It will be an intense and physical game and we are prepared. We are going to Paris to win, it is positive to play the second leg at home, but we want to score away."