‘La Remontada’ feels like a distant memory now. But as Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain prepare to renew hostilities on the pitch come Wednesday (IST), it is hard not to think about it. Over the last four years since arguably the greatest ever comeback in the history of the Champions League, the plot has thickened in unprecedented fashion.
Neymar, who was the orchestrator-in-chief for Barcelona on that night, shifted allegiances to Paris Saint-Germain in a record transfer deal that changed football forever. Although the primary motive behind the move was to help the Ligue 1 champions conquer Europe by winning the Champions League, it has not exactly transpired in such fashion.
Now Paris Saint-Germain firmly believe luring Lionel Messi from Barcelona is the ideal coup that can help them successfully achieve their European dream. There have been murmurs of a reunion with Neymar for quite some time, but recently it has gathered substantial pace in the rumour mill.
At the Camp Nou in 2021, there will be no reunion for sure. Neymar is ruled out injured and Messi will take centre-stage, maybe cut adrift and feeling distant. Not long ago, he wanted to leave the club, maybe he still does. After all, he is considered the missing piece in the European puzzle for Paris Saint-Germain now.
This could be an audition of sorts. If Messi really wants to move to the Parc des Princes at the end of his contract in the summer, this could be the ideal introduction (not like he needs one but still) to his potential future teammates. Despite all of that, the football is of paramount significance of course. The Champions League is back, enjoy responsibly.
In addition to Sergi Roberto, who scored the deciding goal during Barcelona’s remarkable comeback win over PSG in 2017, the likes of Ansu Fati Gerard Pique and Philippe Coutinho are also unavailable.
Ronald Araujo is also unlikely to feature due to an ankle injury, but Samuel Umtiti could possibly return at the heart of defence. Sergino Dest is also in contention to return to the line-up and could be tasked with the duty of keeping Kylian Mbappe quiet.
Ousmane Dembele could also be restored into the line-up irrespective of the fact that Trincao bagged a brace against Alaves in the weekend.
As mentioned earlier, Neymar is ruled out due to injury. The Brazilian picked up an adductor issue during the meeting with Caen in the Coupe de France. Mauricio Pochettino is also sweating over the fitness of Angel Di Maria, who has sustained a thigh injury.
Just like Neymar, a return to Camp Nou seems unlikely for Rafinha as well due to his muscular injury. There are also doubts over the availability of Marco Verratti, while the likes of Moise Kean and Julian Draxler are expected to retain their places alongside Mauro Icardi.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (GK); Sergino Dest, Samuel Umtiti, Clement Lenglet, Jordi Alba, Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri, Ousmane Dembele, Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann
Keylor Navas (GK); Alessandro Florenzi, Marquinhos, Presnel Kimpembe, Layvin Kurzawa, Idrissa Gueye, Leandro Paredes, Moise Kean, Julian Draxler, Kylian Mbappe, Mauro Icardi