It’s a familiar scenario for Paris Saint-Germain: on a quest for European dominance and validation as one of the world’s top clubs, but Barcelona stand in their way. Barca eliminated PSG at the quarterfinal stage of both the 2012-13 and 2014-15 Champions League.
The brilliance of Neymar and Luis Suarez saw Barcelona achieve a 5-1 aggregate victory in 2015, but much has changed in Paris over the following years. The likes of Angel Di Maria and Julian Draxler have added an extra dimension to their attack, but it’s really the transformation of Edinson Cavani that makes PSG a legitimate threat to Barca.
PSG have been overly reliant on Cavani’s goals this season, but when an individual scores 31 goals in 29 appearances across league and Champions League play, you’ll be alright. Previously in the shadow of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and derided for his wasteful finishing, Cavani has been the most clinical striker in the world this year.
Edinson Cavani's conversion rate (34%) this term is better than:Suarez (30%)
Ibrahimovic (21%) pic.twitter.com/NtCKAe9iTp
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) February 7, 2017
PSG are undefeated in their last 11 matches, and Cavani was particularly impressive over the weekend with his brace against Bordeaux.
What a goal!! ICYMI: @ECavaniOfficial makes it look sooo easy! Early lead for @PSG_English against @girondins. https://t.co/sy71i2dDyZ— beIN SPORTS USA (@beINSPORTSUSA) February 10, 2017
After Aleix Vidal’s horrific injury in Barcelona’s match against Alaves on Saturday, the blaugrana will head to Paris with a reshuffled backline on Tuesday. It’s almost a certainty that Cavani will be provided an opportunity to make a difference in the first leg, and this season, he’s put them away with incredible consistency.
Barcelona are deservedly the favorites and will be expected to prevail over the course of this matchup, but don’t expect them to canter into the quarterfinals against a PSG side that, according to manager Unai Emery, no longer “feel inferior to anyone.”