PSG midfield crisis ahead of Barcelona return clash

Reuters, Wednesday 3 Apr 2013

Paris St Germain have midfield teaser to solve ahead of Camp Nou clash in Champions League quarterfinals next week

Paris Saint Germain
Paris Saint Germain's Zlatan Ibrahimovic, right, is congratulated by teammates after he scored during their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal first leg match between PSG and Barcelona at Parc des Princes stadium, in Paris, Tuesday April 2, 2013. (Photo: AP)

Paris St Germain have a midfield conundrum to solve if they are to stand a chance of reaching the Champions League last four on the back of a thrilling 2-2 home draw against Barcelona in Tuesday's first leg.

At the Parc des Princes, holding midfielder Blaise Matuidi was once again PSG's dynamo while David Beckham, a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up, brought composure in a frantic first half.

However, Matuidi, who netted the stoppage time equaliser that brought the home crowd on their feet, will miss the return leg through suspension having been booked in the second half for a rough challenge on Andres Iniesta.

"It is a blow because he is an important player," manager Carlo Ancelotti told reporters.

The Italian's hope will is that his compatriot Thiago Motta is fit to fill the midfield void for next Wednesday's game after missing Tuesday's clash with a groin injury.

"We still have some players in the midfield. I hope I will have Thiago Motta back. We can also play with (Clement) Chantome, who is an aggressive player," Ancelotti said.

"I think we will find a solution."

Ancelotti praised Beckham's performance but the former England midfielder only managed to sustain the pace for half an hour, gradually fading away after a solid start.

"I was obviously very happy to start. The manager has always shown a lot of confidence in me, especially in big moments," Beckham told reporters.

"We will see if I play in the return leg. If I start I will try to make an impact," he was quoted as saying by sports daily L'Equipe.

Beckham alone, however, will not be enough for PSG at the Camp Nou.

AC Milan beat Barca 2-0 in their last 16 first leg clash in the previous round only to be trounced 4-0 at the Camp Nou as the Catalan side ran riot with a near perfect display.

At least PSG can rely on Brazil centre back Thiago Silva, who produced yet another inspiring performance on Tuesday and was never out of position, giving the team the possibility to defend deep.

Their ability to produce lightning-quick counter attacks is then their best weapon against the Spanish side.

"Barca are obviously the favourites but we sent a strong warning. We showed that we were competitive," sports director Leonardo said.

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