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PSG have qualification chance with Messi unlikely to be 100 per cent

| 09.04.2013

In the last round Barcelona showed Milan exactly how overwhelming they can be at Camp Nou when qualification for the next round is at stake, smashing them 4-0 to overturn a 2-0 first leg deficit. Lionel Messi was the architect of the Barca win that day just as he provided the goal which sent PSG scuttling back into their shells after a bright start at Parc des Princes, but with the great man the subject of a late fitness test due to a hamstring injury their visitors will hold out hope of qualification, for which they can be backed at 5/1.

Barcelona haven’t been beaten at home in Champions League action since Rubin Kazan shocked a team including nowaday-PSG-totem Zlatan Ibrahimovic back in October 2009, but they have been held to a draw in the competition three times during that period – a result which can be backed at 4/1 with Coral.

The hosts will not only be fielding an at-best semi-fit Lionel Messi, but they will be without both Carles Puyol and first choice backup Javier Mascherano, meaning Marc Batra – a youth product with just three Champions League starts to his name – may be called in alongside Gerard Pique.

The pair have teamed up just twice this season including a draw against a Celta Vigo side missing leading leading scorer Iago Aspas which Barca conceded twice.

Zlatan Ibrahimovich – who has scored four goals in his last four outings for the Parisians – is far too good a striker for a fledgling defensive partenship to contain for an entire game and can be backed to score at anytime during proceedings at 11/4.

Carlo Ancelotti’s suffered a dip in road form recently, going three games without a win, but they shook the monkey off their backs with the utmost nonchalance when registering a 2-0 win at Rennes last Friday.

PSG have boasted a formidable road defence during the current campaign, keeping clean sheets in half of their 20 away games across all competitions.

With away goals in their favour, a soft-centred defensive partnership to probe and a road defence that can be very resolute PSG could pull off a shock by dumping Los Blaugrana out of the competition for which they are currently favourites.

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