Football

Pochettino cool-headed as PSG return to scene of 6-1 annihilation

Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino says the last disastrous visit to Barcelona in 2017 in the Champions League will have no bearing on Tuesday night's game at the same venue.
Paris Saint-Germain coach Mauricio Pochettino says the last disastrous visit to Barcelona in 2017 in the Champions League will have no bearing on Tuesday night's game at the same venue. Alain JOCARD AFP/Archives

Paris Saint-Germain boss Mauricio Pochettino has downplayed the significance of his club's last visit to Barcelona to play a match in the knockout stages of the Champions League.

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On March 2017, PSG kicked off at the Camp Nou boasting a 4-0 lead from the first leg of their last 16 tie.

However, less than two hours later, Unai Emery's men had crumbled under an all-action assault led by Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Andres Iniesta and Neymar. The final score read: Barcelona 6 PSG 1.

What the Spanish press dubbed 'la remontada' (the comeback) remains one of the most humiliating moments in PSG's recent history.

"We're calm about all that," said Pochettino ahead of PSG's first leg game against Barcelona on Tuesday night.

History

"History is history, we're a different coaching staff, with different players."

Messi still pulls the strings at the Catalans but Iniesta has gone and Suarez was pushed out last summer.

Neymar has moved too.The Brazilian left Barcelona in the summer of 2017 for 222 million euros and forms part of PSG's attacking trident.

But the 28-year-old will miss the game due to injury. Fellow striker Angel Di Maria is also on the treatment table.

"It is clear that absences like those of Neymar or Di María are significant," said Pochettino, who took over from Thomas Tuchel in January.

Hunger

"But we have a group of players who are eager to play this game and I am sure that whoever plays will fulfill their role."

France international Kylian Mbappé is expected to provide the firepower for the French outfit along with Mauro Icardi and Moise Kean.

PSG qualified for the last 16 after finishing top of Group H. Barcelona finished behind Juventus in Group G. Both teams go into the match on the back of domestic victories.

PSG edged past Nice 2-1 on Saturday to close the gap on leaders Lille to one point. Barcelona thrashed Deportivo 5-1 to maintain a slender hope of the La Liga title.

"You can see the excitement throughout the club," added Pochettino. "For PSG it is an obvious goal to win the Champions League and we understand the responsibility,"

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