Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs Barcelona

Will he play or won’t he play is the biggest question surrounding the people at the Barcelona football club, but the bigger question is will they go through or not, enjoying a slight advantage over the visiting Paris Saint-Germain thanks to their two away goals in the first leg, which might not be enough to give them a secure and confident feeling in the second match.

Obviously, most of the attention for Barca is directed at Lionel Messi, but their 5-0 win over Mallorca during the weekend was more proof of how they can handle life without the best footballer in the world. Cesc Fabregas can play the false 9, while there’s David Villa to play as the striker, and his record when healthy and in general throughout his career teaches us he can score goals.

The more worrying absentee, this time a definite one, for Barcelona, is Javier Mascherno, meaning that Marc Barta will play in the center of defense next to Gerard Pique, who is anything but a confident centre back these days, regardless of who is playing next to him. This should mean that Sergio Busquets will drop back quite often to try and help the defensive line, which might need to be a bit more cautious and less adventurous than usual, despite the presence of Dani Alves and Jordi Alba.

For PSG, not having Blaise Matuidi in the middle of the pitch is a blow, possibly giving David Beckham a chance to start, while Thiago Motta is probably still unable to feature in the lineup. It’ll give PSG a very slow middle, and it’s going to be interesting to see if both Javier Pastore and Lucas Moura start as attacking midfielders, or possibly Ancelotti decides to give his team a more defensive look, hoping that the ability of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, plus the speed of Ezequiel Lavezzi should be enough to poach an early goal and then sit out for the rest of the match.

Prediction – Even without Lionel Messi, we’re not going to see a drastic change from Barcelona in the way they play. They will probably be a bit more cautious defensive-wise, but don’t be surprised to see them begin with an all-out blitz to try and settle the tie early. PSG have the tools to handle them on a good day, but their weakness in the middle of the pitch should be their undoing.