PSG vs Barcelona Champions League Preview

30 01 2014

Arguably the biggest clash in this week’s UEFA Champions League comes at the Parc des Princes where Paris Saint-Germain host Barcelona. Arguments can be made for Manchester City versus Roma and Spanish champions Atlético Madrid versus Italian champions Juventus but we won’t go into that.

Paris Saint-Germain have made an inauspicious start to their domestic season as defending French Ligue 1 champions, drawing five of their opening eight matches, while winning the other three. This includes three of their last four league games being a 1-1 draw. During that spell, they also drew 1-1 at Ajax in their Champions League opener.

Laurent Blanc’s side aren’t yet up and running for the 2014-15 season and his side face a massive test against a Barcelona side who have scored 11 goals in their last three games combined.

Luis Enrique’s side have hit the ground running in his first season in charge, already with a four-point lead over pre-season La Liga favourites Real Madrid, after six games.

Neymar has started the season in good form and Lionel Messi is looking sharp also. They have not conceded a goal in their seven competitive games this season. Barcelona will be favourites for this game with Betfair in the betting stakes, especially with PSG missing Ibra up front and Thiago Silva at the back.

Team News

Paris Saint-Germain

There are three massive injury blows to the home side who are without strikers Zlatan Ibrahimović, Ezequiel Lavezzi and centre-back Thiago Silva.


Luis Suárez’s long-term suspension is the only player unavailable to Luis Enrique. With the Uruguayan yet to make his debut for Barcelona, the head coach essentially has the full squad he’s been working with this season for their trip to the French capital.

Predicted Lineups

Predicted PSG lineup vs Barcelona on 30/09/2014Paris Saint-Germain remain with two Brazilian centre-backs, but without Thiago Silva it is the young Marquinhos alongside the risky David Luiz. Barcelona were actually linked to Marquinhos over the summer. Blanc has his favourite central midfield three available which includes former Barcelona player Thiago Motta. Marco Verratti is vulnerable at conceding possession and free kicks inside his own half. Up front, the young striker Jean-Christophe Bahebeck scored PSG’s equaliser at the weekend and has started their last two.

Predicted Barcelona lineup vs PSG on 30/09/2014Claudio Bravo remains in goal for Barcelona despite Marc-André ter Stegen fit and awaiting to take over the number one role. The German’s debut and only game for Barcelona so far was in their opening Champions League group game but we’d expect Luis Enrique to stick with Bravo who has had most of the action this season. Xavi could start in midfield and Munir could start on the wing but we’re going with Pedro ahead of the youngster.

Key Matchups

Lionel Messi vs David Luiz
Lionel Messi scored two and assisted two of Barcelona’s goals at the weekend, taking him up to 401 in competitive games for Barcelona at the mere age of 27. He has been involved in 11 goals (6 goals, 5 assists) in his first six league games this season. We know how mistake-prone David Luiz is and if he lets slip just once in 90 minutes he can expected to be punished by one of the best footballers of all-time on Tuesday.

Neymar vs Gregory van der Wiel
Neymar has six goals in his first five La Liga games of 2014-15 and he’s only started three of those. Early signs are that Luis Enrique is getting the best out of the 22-year old who was widely criticised during the second half of last season. Gregory van der Wiel will be in for a tough match versus the exciting Brazilian who consistently runs at defenders and is deadly when cutting in from the wing. The PSG defence on the whole is in for a tough test against one of the best attacking units in football.

Javier Pastore vs Sergio Busquets
Paris Saint-Germain’s expensive Argentine playmaker has not really lived up to his heights yet following his move from Palermo in 2011. Javier Pastore has made a good start to this season though as the side’s playmaker in the team. He’ll have Edinson Cavani to feed and we know the Uruguayan is a potent goal threat. Whilst Zlatan Ibrahimović is a big loss they still have goal threats and Pastore on his day is capable of pulling the strings.

Prediction Paris Saint-Germain 1-2 Barcelona
A massive loss in defence with Thiago Silva out, Paris Saint-Germain are going to have to sit back and defend for long periods of this game if they want to get anything out of it. Barcelona’s attack simply looks too powerful for Laurent Blanc’s side and we think the Spaniard’s will pick up three points on the road.

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Wayne Rooney closing in on Sir Bobby Charlton’s England record

12 01 2014

Saturday 19 October 2002. That was the date that Wayne Rooney made a name for himself in English football when he scored the winner for Everton to end Arsenal’s 30-game unbeaten run.

The boy wonder was only 16 years at the time – the youngest goalscorer in Premier League history at the time. Five months later and the Everton teenager has scored for England, also the youngest-ever goalscorer at the time (since broken by Theo Walcott).

Nearly 12 years on and Wayne Rooney is hunting down Sir Bobby Charlton’s record as England’s all-time top goalscorer. The Manchester United legend and 1966 World Cup winner scored 49 goals for the Three Lions during his career.

Wayne Rooney is on 42 goals for the national team after converting a penalty in England’s 5-0 win over San Marino on Thursday. The England captain does not turn 29 until November. With several years ahead of him – surely Rooney is going to become the first Englishman to hit 50 goals at international level?

England’s next qualifiers are in Estonia and then hosting Slovenia on November 15. The visitors to Wembley Stadium next month may be considered the only nation who could possibly stop England topping the qualifying group following their victory over Switzerland on Thursday, which makes it a step up from the San Marino dross earlier this week. If you’re looking for tickets for England’s final competitive game of 2014, check

Estonia host England on Sunday where the Three Lions are expected to win, and win convincingly. Manager Roy Hodgson had targeted 13 goals for his side over the two games – meaning eight are required in Tallinn.

Rooney can be expected to play the full 90 minutes as he currently serves a suspension with Manchester United, putting him out of domestic action. The opportunity to add to his goals tally looks encouraging, although their opponents have only conceded one goal in their 180 minutes of qualifying, albeit to opponents much lower-ranked than England.

With future qualifiers against Estonia (home and away), Lithuania (home and away), San Marino (away), Slovenia (home and away) and Switzerland (home), it wouldn’t be out of the question for Rooney to break Charlton’s record before the Euro 2016 finals themselves.

As for Rooney leaving behind a legacy. He’s been England captain, he’s currently one of only five players to have scored at least 40 international goals. He exploded onto the scene at Euro 2004 before being stamped on and subsequently injured in the quarter-finals.

Since then, Rooney’s performances at international tournaments have certainly been questioned. It took him until this summer’s World Cup to finally break his duck. The Manchester United striker certainly won’t go down amongst the likes of Sir Bobby Charlton, Sir Bobby Moore and Paul Gascoigne – but he’ll certainly go down as one of the best this country has produced.

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