Barcelona v PSG Tips: In form Messi can help inspire Barca at the Camp Nou
Approaching four years on from the breath-taking La Remontada, Barcelona welcome back Paris Saint-Germain to the Camp Nou for the first leg of the Champions League last 16 tie. Live on BT Sport at 20:00 Tuesday night, I'll be taking a closer look into this battle of the Spanish and French giants to find some value.
With Pique ruled out, Ronald Koeman has important changes to make at centre back. De Jong is rumoured to step into that position with a lack of trust for the Frenchman Samuel Umtiti; this could see Pjanic make his first start since the Copa Del Rey back at the start of January.
Pochettino also has some big changes to make to his side for his first Champions League game in charge of the French champions. He came under scrutiny for starting Neymar in the Coupe De France; a risk he will most certainly regret after Neymar suffered an adductor injury ruling him out for the foreseeable future. Angel Di Maria is also side-lined for this clash which leaves the PSG attack looking a shadow of its former self.
With the injuries to both Neymar and Di Maria, the price has shortened considerably on Barcelona, leaving them at 1/1, the draw 14/5 and an away win at 12/5. Barcelona have looked frail at the back which makes this 1/1 price unappealing – so il be taking a different angle in.
Barcelona have definitely been improving upon their early season woes, however still look extremely vulnerable at the back. Having conceded 21 goals in La Liga this season, more than any other side in the top five, I fancy PSG to bag a crucial away goal in the first leg.
Both teams to score is priced at a very skinny 1/2, so my value play is Barcelona to win and both teams to score at a tasty 23/10. All of Barcelona’s last four wins have seen both teams scoring and with changes at the back for Koeman's side, I expect goals at both ends here at Camp Nou.
Since Pochettino took over, it seems that the Italian, Marco Verratti, has been given a new role for the Parisians. He was rested versus Nice at the weekend in order to have him fresh for their Champions League match against the Catalan giants, where he is likely to start in a number 10 role.
In his last six Ligue 1 matches, Verratti has registered five shots. Playing in this higher role with two defensive minded players behind him, he is given more freedom to make attacking runs into the box. This 5/6 shot has landed in four of his last six matches (66%) and priced as a 54% chance, I definitely see some value against a make shift Barcelona defence.
Messi has been in scintillating form, scoring five goals in his last six appearances – most recently stealing the headlines in the weekends 5-1 thrashing of Alaves where he bagged twice alongside equalling Xavi’s club record of 505 La Liga appearances.
Thriving in a central role, oppositions central midfielders have been booked 6 times in Messi’s last six starts. He also draws the most fouls in the Spanish side, conceding an incredible 17 fouls in only his last four starts. Matched up against fellow international, Leandro Parades, who will likely start in a central defensive midfield role, I fancy him to pick up a booking at 13/8.
This price may seem short at a glance, but delving into the stats above and the fact Parades himself has picked up a whopping six cards in his last 13 starts (46%), backing him to go into the book at 13/8 (38%) actually holds some value.