PSG vs Barcelona: Three players to look out for

The Hard Tackle lists three players who can make a lasting impact when PSG and Barcelona clash at Parc des Princes on Wednesday.

The quarter-finals of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League continue on Wednesday, with the day featuring two La Liga clubs. One of those matches will feature Barcelona, with the Blaugrana taking on PSG at Parc des Princes, hoping to inch closer to a spot in the semi-finals.

PSG reached the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals after clinching a hard-fought 4-1 win over Real Sociedad in the Round of 16. Meanwhile, Les Parisiens had finished second in the group of death behind Borussia Dortmund, beating AC Milan and Newcastle United to the runners-up spot.

As for Barcelona, they had to battle hard for the top spot in Group H but beat FC Porto to the summit. Meanwhile, the Blaugrana met Napoli in the Round of 16 and eased to a well-fought 4-2 aggregate win over the Partenopei to set up the clash with Paris Saint-Germain.

PSG and Barcelona have already locked horns in some classic clashes, including one seven years ago. With another on the horizon this month, The Hard Tackle lists three players whose performances can swing the balance in their team’s favour.

Kylian Mbappe

The first player is hardly a surprise, considering his stature and “Big Match Pedigree”. We are talking about Kylian Mbappe, who has often saved his best for the most crucial fixtures his teams have played.

The French international famously scored a hat-trick in the 2022 FIFA World Cup to bring Les Bleus from the brink of defeat to nearly winning the trophy. He has also produced numerous clutch displays at the club level with PSG.

Meanwhile, a new adventure beckons the 25-year-old heading into the summer transfer window, as he will likely leave PSG as a free agent. A move to Real Madrid might be on the cards, although Premier League bigwigs like Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United have also shown interest in him.

However, Mbappe remains focused on the job at hand, even with Luis Enrique often substituting him before the game ends. The Frenchman has a mind-boggling record of 39 goals and nine assists in 40 appearances across all competitions. It will not be surprising to see the PSG talisman add to that tally on Wednesday against Barcelona.

Pau Cubarsi

Our next pick is a youngster who has not taken long to stamp his authority at the heart of the Barcelona defence. We are talking about Pau Cubarsi, who has been carving out a spot for himself in the backline at the Catalan club.

The remarkable aspect of Cubarsi’s world-class performances at the back is that he is still in his teens. The young prodigy is only 17 years old and has still produced several top-notch displays. One of these came on his UEFA Champions League debut as Barcelona got past Napoli in the previous stage.

Cubarsi’s exploits have captured the attention of several high-profile clubs across Europe, with Premier League bigwigs like Chelsea and Manchester United vying for his signature. However, there is no fazing the Barcelona wonderkid, who will hope to keep the PSG attack quiet on Wednesday.

Cubarsi successfully kept Victor Osimhen at bay. While Kylian Mbappe will provide a stiff challenge to the teenage sensation, he has the ability and temperament to neutralise the 2018 FIFA World Cup winner at Parc des Princes this midweek.

Robert Lewandowski

Our list ends with another striker, and we have picked a Barcelona player, as we often do. The second player from a team hails from either the underdogs or the visiting team. And the shortlist rounds off with Robert Lewandowski.

The Polish international was excellent last season as he won the Pichichi Award and guided Barcelona to the title in La Liga. However, his performance levels dropped this season, especially in the first half of the 2023/24 campaign.

But Lewandowski has stepped up in the last few weeks, helping Barcelona mount an 11-match unbeaten run that has stretched for over two months. With the other Barcelona attackers not being as prolific as the veteran striker, the onus will be on him to deliver the goods and help the away side return home alive in the tie.

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