PSG faces the greatest test with Barca

Updated 02 April 2013
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PSG faces the greatest test with Barca

PARIS: Qatari-backed Paris St. Germain’s mission to be considered one of Europe’s top clubs faces its toughest test yet when they host Barcelona in an intriguing Champions League quarterfinal first leg on Tuesday.
Barcelona, having recovered from a first-leg stumble in their last-16 tie against AC Milan to qualify for the last eight 4-2 on aggregate, are widely considered favorites to win the trophy for the fourth time in eight seasons at Wembley in May.
PSG, who saw off Valencia in the last 16, believe however that this could be a turning point in their climb to the peak of the European game.
The wealthy French club, under experienced coach Carlo Ancelotti, are on course for their first domestic title for 18 years as well as being in the last eight of the Champions League after an 18-year absence.
They go into today’s tie, however, as underdogs for the first time this season — and will do well to survive it.
Qatari fund QSI has set PSG a tough agenda of winning the Champions League within five years, having bought the club last year and poured huge amounts of money into transfers to build a team made for Europe.
Center back Thiago Silva, front man Zlatan Ibrahimovic and forward Ezequiel Lavezzi, who all signed last year, have been key in helping PSG reach this stage, and at least they have a good omen on their side.
The last time they reached the quarterfinals in 1995, they beat Barcelona but much has changed since. PSG have been absent while Barcelona have been crowned European champions three times.
Thiago Silva said the tie was “the game we all were dreaming about” and the expensively purchased trio will have to raise their level to the heights if PSG are to stand any chance of winning.
Latest signing David Beckham, who joined them on a five-month deal in January, believes they can meet these expectations.
“This club have high aspirations. We want to go as far as we can in all competitions,” the former England captain told reporters after the Ligue 1 home win over champions Montpellier on Friday.
“It’s obvious that we have the players for it. There’s no doubt we have the mentality. Now, it’s up to us to prove it on the pitch.
“Or course, it will hard, but very exciting too,” added Beckham.
PSG’s chances were boosted when Ibrahimovic was freed to face his former club after the two-match ban imposed following his dismissal at Valencia was halved.
Ibrahimovic had a mixed year-long spell at Barca but said facing them again would not pose any problems for him.
While PSG will bank on Ancelotti’s tactical expertise, his Barcelona counterpart Tito Vilanova could return to the dugout for the first time after two months in New York receiving cancer treatment during which his assistant Jordi Roura has been in charge.
Vilanova flew back to Barcelona last week and took training on Friday but did not travel with the side to Vigo on Saturday.
The La Liga leaders maintained their 13-point advantage over Real Madrid at the top of the standings, with nine games left to play, but were disappointed to concede a late equalizer despite having fielded a weakened side.
World Player of the Year Lionel Messi set up the first and scored the second to complete a run of netting in 19 successive league games, against every team in La Liga consecutively.
Vilanova called up Jordi Alba and Xavi, who missed Saturday’s game but have both recovered from hamstring strains they suffered while on international duty with Spain.
Captain Carles Puyol and Adriano Correia are out injured and, with forward Pedro suspended, Cristian Tello could feature in Paris. The pacy 21-year-old winger scored Barca’s first against Celta and set up the second for Messi.


Sublime Mohamed Salah leads Liverpool to stunning 5-2 win over Roma

Updated 25 April 2018
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Sublime Mohamed Salah leads Liverpool to stunning 5-2 win over Roma

  • Liverpool move onto 38 goals for this season’s competition — 11 more than any other team
  • Salah is now on 43 goals for the season in all competitions

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah put his former side Roma to the sword on Tuesday night with a scintillating performance as the Reds ran riot at Anfield, taking a commading 5-2 lead into next week’s second leg in Rome.
The Italian side had no answer to the Egyptian superstar’s sublime skill as he scored two world-class goals and set up another two for Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
Firmino added the fifth as the Merseyside club romped into a 5-0 lead to put the English side within touching distance of the Champions League final.
Salah’s display was as exquisite as Roma’s defending was naive, with Liverpool scoring all of their goals in a breathtaking 33-minute spell either side of halftime amid a cauldron of noise at Anfield.
But two consolation goals in the final nine minutes from Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti has given Roma hope of recreating their heroics from the previous leg against Barcelona.
In the latest virtuoso performance of his stunning first season at Liverpool, Salah curled a shot into the top corner in the 36th minute and doubled the lead in the 45th with a dinked finish that is fast becoming his trademark. He is now on 43 goals for the season in all competitions with potentially five games left.
The Egypt forward was not finished there, taking advantage of Roma’s high defensive line to provide crosses for Mane and Firmino to score almost identical goals in the 56th and 61st minutes, respectively.
Firmino glanced home a header from James Millner’s corner in the 69th to leave Roma’s players on the floor — literally in the case of their distressed goalkeeper, Alisson.
Liverpool moved onto 38 goals for this season’s competition — 11 more than any other team — but cannot begin preparing for the final in Kiev on May 26 quite yet.
Dzeko chested down a long pass to make it 5-1 in the 81st and when Milner handled a shot from Radja Nainggolan, Perotti converted the penalty in the 89th.
Bayern Munich play Real Madrid in the other semifinal, with the first leg in Germany on Wednesday.
Roma knows all about Salah, who scored 15 goals and set up 11 more in the second of his two seasons at the Italian club before joining Liverpool for 42 million euros (then $47 million) in June.
He’s obliterating those figures at Anfield this season. His double saw him surge past Cristiano Ronaldo’s 42 goals for Manchester United in the 2007-08 season, for example.
Salah won English soccer’s Player of the Year award on Sunday. At this rate, the Ballon D’Or could be his next year.