Barcelona 90 minutes away from a Champions League semifinal birth

Barcelona host PSG with a narrow 3-2 advantage as they look to book a spot in the Champions League semifinal
Barcelona Training Session
Barcelona Training Session / David Ramos/GettyImages

The last time Barcelona progressed to the Champions League semifinal was back on the 2018/19 season under Ernesto Valverde. They were knocked out by Liverpool after blowing a first leg three goal lead.

Barcelona will look to exorcize those demons when the Catalan side host PSG in the second leg of their quarterfinal tie. The Blaugrana stunned PSG, winning the first leg 3-2 at the Parc des Princes.

Despite heading into the second leg with an advantage, Xavi Hernandez knows it won't be easy getting past PSG a second time.

"It's going to be a major football war," Xavi said in his pre-match press conference. "We are not a team that speculates; we will want to take the ball away from PSG and win the game. Hopefully we'll be at our best. They're going to demand a lot from us."

In preparing for PSG, Xavi opted to give a number of his players rest over the weekend in their 1-0 win over Cadiz. However, Barcelona will be without both Sergi Roberto and Andreas Christensen who picked up a yellow card in Paris and thus will be serving a one-match suspension.

This makes things trickier for Xavi as he started Sergi Roberto in the first leg and then brought on Christensen in the second half with the Danish player scoring the winner with a header off a corner. Xavi now has to make a tough decision as to who will start alongside Frenkie de Jong and Ilkay Gundogan.

"The players banned, Sergi Roberto and Christensen, hurts us, it's true but the key against PSG will be to play as a team," Xavi said. "If we can do it, regardless of names, we will have a great chance. We gave to give it all to get to the semi-finals."

The options for Xavi in midfield is either starting Pedri, who is just making his way back from a prolonged injury absence, and Fermin Lopez. We all saw what Pedri can do even with a limited number of minutes. His vision and his passing ability is what led to Raphinha's equalizer. What Fermin Lopez gives you is the ability to use his speed to not only cover more ground but get in behind the defense on a long ball.

Both options have their plusses and minuses. It's one of the drawbacks of not having a pivot Xavi can trust. Oriol Romeu was brought in to be just that but he's lost prominence as the season has gone on and is likely set for exit come the end of the campaign.

While Barcelona are going to be without two of their players, Luis Enrique gets Achraf Hakimi back. Hakimi was serving a suspension and thus unavailable in the first leg. His return is going to test the Barcelona defense who, aside from those first five minutes in the second half, did a decent job of keeping PSG, particularly Kylian Mbappe, at bay.

Again, this is a valuable opportunity for Barcelona to show they have progressed from seasons past and are closer to once again being that elite team on the European stage. Especially if it comes at the expense of PSG who boast nearly unlimited resources.

PSG isn't going to make things easy by any stretch of the imagination. Luis Enrique has already said he is confident they will be able to turn things around. If anyone is familiar in turning around first leg defeats in the Champions League, it's Luis Enrique.

The Montjuic is no Camp Nou but with the match expected to be a sellout, Xavi hopes to use that energy as an extra motivator and a way to exert pressure on PSG.

"Happy to be where we are, proud to be where are," Xavi said. "I think it's a good moment and I'm excited. We feel it already. We have to control ouor emotions, our temperament. It's a game of heads or tails. We want to be in control with the ball, and we want to show the best side and personality of the team.


"We need our fans to be loud because PSG will make us suffer, there's no doubt about it, and we have to be a team to beat them. All of us, together."