The Catalans trail the French titleholders by a point ahead of their showdown in Catalunya, meaning that nothing less than a win will suffice if they want to finish first
The Catalans head into Wednesday’s pool finale at Camp Nou knowing only a victory will do if they wish to leapfrog the French champions into top spot.
Both teams have already qualified comfortably for the knockout stages, but PSG sit a point clear of Barca at the summit with just one game remaining – thanks in no small part to their thrilling 3-2 win over Lionel Messi and Co. in Paris in September.
But with the likes of Bayern Munich and Chelsea having already secured top spot in their respective groups, Barca and PSG know how important going through in first place could prove ahead of next Monday’s last-16 draw in Nyon.
And Blaugrana boss Luis Enrique is confident that his in-form side – who have won their last seven matches in all competitions – can claim the three points they require from what promises to be a tense evening in Catalonia.
“I don’t know if it is the best moment to play PSG, but it is certainly a good one,” said the 44-year-old, who will be without suspended full-back Dani Alves.
“We are playing a rival which has made things difficult for us with their quality, so the clash with PSG is a wonderful, perfect match.
“We know that any winning result works for us, and we are going to fight the same way that we have since the beginning of the season.”
In order to win Group F, however, Barca need to do something no other team has managed this season.
Following their 2-1 win over Nantes on Saturday – and Premier League leaders Chelsea’s defeat at Newcastle United earlier in the same day – PSG now stand as the only team in any of Europe’s five most major leagues not to have lost a game in any competition this term.
Laurent Blanc’s side have won 15 and drawn eight of their 23 matches thus far in 2014-15, with last weekend’s victory against Nantes coming courtesy of a brace from former Barca striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
However, Blanc is well aware that PSG’s unbeaten run is set for its sternest examination yet, and has called on his players to up their game ahead of their crucial trip to Spain.
“We’re happy to have won [against Nantes], but we will need to improve to get a win against Barcelona,” the Frenchman, who played for Barca for one season in the 1990s, commented.
As is the case for any team visiting Camp Nou, keeping Messi quiet will be key if PSG are to escape with their undefeated record intact.
That will be easier said than done, though, as the Barca talisman heads into the game in scintillating form even by his own exalted standards.
Messi scored a third hat-trick in his last four appearances in Barca’s 5-1 rout of neighbours Espanyol on Sunday, and was also on target in their defeat at Parc des Princes earlier in the season.