Gerard Pique is back from injury and included in the Barcelona squad for Tuesday’s Champions League last-16 first-leg tie against Paris Saint-Germain at the Camp Nou.
The defender has not featured since suffering a knee injury against Atletico Madrid in November but makes the list along with fit-against Martin Braithwaite.
Pique and Braithwaite are part of a strong Barcelona squad for the tie, although the Catalan giants are missing some key names. Ansu Fati, Sergi Roberto, Philippe Coutinho, and Ronald Araujo remain on the injured list and miss the game.
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Will Pique Play?
Pique’s return means Koeman has a big decision to make over who to play in central defense against the French champions. The Dutch boss needs to decide whether to throw Pique straight back into action or start him on the bench.
Clement Lenglet, Samuel Umtiti, and youngster Oscar Mingueza are also available, although Pique’s vast experience means Koeman could be tempted to put his faith in the 34-year-old.
PSG arrive at Camp Nou without key attackers Angel Di Maria and Neymar due to injury but in Kylian Mbappe possess one of Europe’s most prolific strikers. The Frenchman is also blessed with terrific pace which Barca may struggle to cope with, particularly without Araujo in the team.
Koeman ‘Not Scared’ of PSG
Koeman has been in confident mood ahead of the game after seeing his team go on a run of 12 games unbeaten in La Liga. The Barca boss told a news conference on Monday his team’s good form has boosted confidence ahead of a tricky tie.
I already said after this draw that I believe in my team, I believe that we have a lot of quality players. I think we have improved in our style of play and results but during the draw I was thinking this is a very equal match-up. We are very ambitious ahead of this match, we are aware that our confidence has been boosted and our chances to win this match have grown and that’s important.
PSG made it to the final of last season’s tournament, eventually going down 1-0 to Bayern Munich, and will be expected to go deep into the tournament once again. Koeman says he respects the team’s recent record in Europe but does not fear the French champions.
I’m not scared of anything because I have full trust in my players, I respect the opponent because they are strong, and their recent track record in the Champions League makes them one of the favorites. We will try and dominate the match, each team has positives and negatives and we have to try and capitalize on the negatives.
An intriguing tie awaits at Camp Nou where Barca have a strong record in Europe’s top competition. The Catalan giants have suffered tough exits in the Champions League at the hands of Roma, Liverpool, and Bayern Munich in the last three seasons but will need a big performance to overcome PSG.