It was 16 years ago this month that Juventus claimed their first ever Champions League title with a 2-1 victory over Barcelona. It was also 16 years ago that the same team notched an embarrassing 2-1 defeat at the Parc des Princes in that competition, a result that in no way aided Barcelona’s quest to win Europe’s biggest club competition on that occasion.
However, in a month’s time the dream could very well come true for Barcelona if they are able to conquer Paris Saint-Germain in the final in Cardiff. It is also highly likely that a number of ex-Barcelona players and their fans will be ex-PSG fans by the time the sides meet in the final.
As it currently stands, PSG has triumphed in all but one of the club’s two Champions League meetings with Barcelona in the ‘Road to Cardiff’ series. While they lost the first meeting in 2013, PSG erased that bitter memory in the round of 16 with a resounding 3-0 aggregate victory.
This year however, things seem destined to be very different. Upon arriving in Paris for the third meeting, Lionel Messi was effusive with his praise for the Eiffel Tower and the sights in Paris.
“I do like Paris a lot. The place in Paris is beautiful. I do like the Eiffel Tower. One of the most beautiful buildings in the world, especially the view from it.”
Upon meeting PSG, Barcelona’s great forward urged the current French champions to ‘get rid of the stereotypes’ and make the most of the opportunity to win the Champions League.
“It’s about time they start getting rid of their baggage. We have to work more hard and the way to do that is by getting rid of all the stereotypes of what the French teams think,” Messi said.
“I hope that this year is the one when Paris Saint-Germain can show that they are the best team and the best club in the world.”
Despite Messi’s words, Barcelona could still face a scenario where a loss to their current table-topping rivals on Sept. 12 would condemn them to second place and automatic qualification for the Europa League. That would likely necessitate one of the two La Liga runners-up to play off with the third best-ranked Champions League qualifier for the second stage of the competition. At the very least, a win for PSG would seal qualification for UEFA’s elite club competition before any game is played.
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