PSG ‘favourites’ in Champions League clash, says Barcelona coach Xavi

FILE - Barcelona head coach Xavi. Photo: Jaime Reina/AFP

FILE - Barcelona head coach Xavi. Photo: Jaime Reina/AFP

Published Mar 16, 2024


Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said on Saturday Paris Saint-Germain were the favourites in their upcoming Champions League quarter-final tussle.

The Catalans, five-time winners of the competition, face former coach Luis Enrique's French champions, but although PSG are still looking to win the trophy for the first time, Xavi believes they are the stronger side.

"I'd give them the favourites tag — we have won more Champions Leagues, but the economic situation they are in, signing players (compared to) what we can spend, it's not the same situation," Xavi told a news conference.

"They won't beat us on hope, desire, and dreaming though, we watched the draw together and the players are positive and looking forward to competing.

"We have to show it on the pitch — it's easy to talk and then do nothing — we must speak on the pitch, and show our talent and worth there."

Led by a rampant Kylian Mbappe, PSG cruised to a 5-2 aggregate victory over Barcelona in the 2020-21 season at the last 16 stage.

However, Luis Enrique's Barcelona recorded an historic comeback victory to beat PSG 6-1 at Camp Nou in the 2016-17 season, after a 4-0 away defeat, to reach the quarter-finals.

Xavi hailed now PSG coach Luis Enrique, who led the Catalans to the trophy in 2015, the last time the Spanish champions conquered Europe.

"It's so hard, they are one of the toughest teams we could have drawn," said Xavi.

"I know Luis Enrique and his staff very well, he is a brilliant coach, and they work very well... but I have confidence and hope.

"We've drawn one of the hardest opponents but having the second leg at home is positive for us."

The Spanish champions travel to Paris for the first leg on April 10, with the second leg at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona on April 16.

This weekend Barcelona, third, visit fourth-place Atletico Madrid in La Liga, looking to extend the six-point gap.

Diego Simeone's side beat Champions League runners-up Inter Milan on penalties on Wednesday also to reach the quarter-finals, where they face Borussia Dortmund.

"We're arriving well, but they are in high confidence too," said Xavi.

"They are a Champions League level team; they showed it the other day and it's even more true in front of their fans."


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