Barca seek miracle as Bayern, Real eye quarters
Barcelona striker Neymar vowed his side will throw everything at Paris Saint-Germain in their bid to overturn a four-goal deficit in the Champions League last 16 this week.
PSG fired a significant warning of intent throughout Europe with a 4-0 rout of Barca in the French capital three weeks ago and will aim to complete the job in the return leg at the Camp Nou on Wednesday.
But the Catalan giants go into the game buoyed by thumping 6-1 and 5-0 wins in their past two league matches and haven’t given up hope of staging an unprecedented comeback.
No side has lost 4-0 away from home in Europe and gone through in a two-legged tie, but with Barca’s prolific front three of Neymar, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez they cannot be entirely discounted.
“Against PSG we will run and fight and then we will see what happens,” said Neymar.
“It’s really important that our spirit is on the way up and our confidence too. I see us on the up and with confidence. On Wednesday we are going to play really well.”
Barca knocked PSG out at the quarter-final stage in both 2012-13 and 2014-15, but the reigning French champions have the upper hand this time and January signing Julian Draxler is confident of reaching the last eight for the fifth year in succession.
“Many teams have lost 5-0 at the Camp Nou, we know that anything is possible,” Draxler told PSG’s club website. “But deep down I’m convinced we’ll qualify for the quarter-finals.
“I think it will be important to attack and not just think about defending.”
Bayern Munich have one foot in the next round after thrashing Arsenal 5-1 at the Allianz Arena and look set to eliminate the Gunners in the last 16 for the third time in the past five seasons.
– ‘Full throttle’ –
“We have a big advantage, but Arsenal are dangerous, so we have to go full throttle to win,” said Spain international Javi Martinez, who netted his first goal of the season in Saturday’s 3-0 victory at Cologne.
Philipp Lahm will miss the game through suspension, but the Bayern skipper said his team-mates would aim to extinguish any lingering hopes Arsene Wenger’s men have right from kick-off in London.
“We have to be highly focused and, most importantly, show Arsenal in the first quarter-hour they can forget the next round,” Lahm said ahead of Tuesday’s clash, with the Premier League side staring at a seventh straight last-16 exit.
Holders Real Madrid head to Napoli as clear favourites after a 3-1 win in the Spanish capital, but such an advantage has not always proved a guarantee of success for the record 11-time champions.
Real have held a similar lead on eight previous occasions in European competition but only progressed half of the time, providing Napoli with reason to dream they can pull off a shock.
“We believe in it. We know we can score two goals at the San Paolo. We also know it will be quite a job for our defenders,” Senegalese centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly told AFP following Saturday’s 2-1 win at Roma in Serie A.
Borussia Dortmund trail 1-0 ahead of the visit of Benfica to Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed a penalty as Kostas Mitroglou’s second-half strike in Lisbon last month gave the Portuguese outfit the edge in their tie.
But the Gabonese striker netted his 20th and 21st goals of the Bundesliga season in Saturday’s 6-2 drubbing of Bayer Leverkusen to move back in front of Bayern marksman Robert Lewandowski at the top of the scoring charts.
However, the victory came at a cost with Germany international Marco Reus ruled out for four weeks after tearing his hamstring.
“It’s sad news, he (Reus) has been playing very consistently for weeks and at a high level,” said Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel.
“It’s an enormous loss which tarnishes the win.”