Ronald Koeman only took charge of Barcelona at the start of the season, but his tenure could be brief.

With Joan Laporta back at Camp Nou as president, he is determined to make his mark.

And highly rated RB Leipzig head coach Julian Nagelsmann is reportedly fancied in Barcelona.

 

TOP STORY – LAPORTA FANCIES NAGELSMANN

New Barcelona president Joan Laporta is eyeing RB Leipzig's Julian Nagelsmann as the club's next head coach, according to El Larguero.

Laporta was elected Barca president on Sunday and attention has immediately turned to the dugout at Camp Nou.

Ronald Koeman is currently at the helm but while Laporta respects the Dutchman, he prefers Nagelsmann.

 

ROUND-UP

Paris Saint-Germain could make a move for Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo if Kylian Mbappe leaves, claims Le Parisien. Reports in Italy and Spain say Juve will sell Ronaldo at the end of the season following their Champions League last-16 exit. With Mbappe's future unclear in Paris amid links to Real Madrid, PSG are eyeing a possible deal for Ronaldo. Barca's Lionel Messi has also been heavily linked.

- The Daily Mail reports Chelsea are keen on Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman if Christian Pulisic leaves Stamford Bridge. Liverpool, Manchester United and Bayern have emerged as possible suitors for Pulisic, who is out of favour under Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel. Coman was linked with United during the previous transfer window.

Barca are dreaming of signing Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland, claims Mundo Deportivo. Madrid, PSG, United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Juventus and Manchester City are all reportedly keen on Haaland. City forward Sergio Aguero, Lyon captain Memphis Depay, Bayern star David Alaba and City defender Eric Garcia are also among Barca's list of targets.

- Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum is a target for Inter, according to Calciomercato. The Netherlands international has been linked with Barca previously.

- Ajax's Brian Brobbey will join Leipzig on a free transfer at the end of the season, reports Fabrizio Romano.

Inter vice-president Javier Zanetti "can't say" the Serie A leaders want Lionel Messi as he believes the Barcelona superstar will remain at Camp Nou.

Messi's future has dominated headlines, with the six-time Ballon d'Or winner tipped to join Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain or Premier League leaders Manchester City on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Inter have also emerged as a possible destination for Messi, who tried to leave embattled LaLiga giants Barca ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

Argentina and Inter great Zanetti, though, feels his 33-year-old countryman will continue playing for Barca beyond this season.

"We can't say that, he is a Barcelona player and he's spent the whole career there. I think he will continue there," Zanetti told ONTime Sports.

"We are focused on the group of players we have. We must be focused on ourselves, we are focused on the next game. Everyone is doing very well."

Asked to compare Messi to legendary football Diego Maradona – who died in November – Zanetti added: "I can't make comparisons, they are both great champions.

"It's always good when big players move to Serie A. When Cristiano Ronaldo arrived, it was good for the league."

Messi has scored a league-high 19 goals and supplied six assists in 24 LaLiga appearances for Ronald Koeman's second-placed Barca this season, and 25 across all competitions.

Barca are six points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid ahead of Monday's match against Huesca.

Messi has been involved in five goals in two games against Huesca in LaLiga (two goals and three assists), including two goals and two assists in his only league appearance against them at Camp Nou.

Barcelona have gone 16 games without losing in LaLiga (W13 D3) – the best current unbeaten streak of any team in the five major leagues in Europe.

Timo Werner's unproductive spell at Chelsea may be over after one season.

The Germany international only signed from RB Leipzig ahead of this season.

He has largely underwhelmed with five goals from 27 Premier League appearances.

 

TOP STORY – WERNER COULD LEAVE CHELSEA

Football Insider reports Werner is prepared to quit Chelsea less than 12 months into a bumper five-year contract.

Werner netted 28 Bundesliga goals for RB Leipzig in 2019-20 but that return has drastically fallen since moving to London.

It is said there is a growing expectation that Werner will leave in the next year or two, despite the arrival of countryman Thomas Tuchel, which has led to a slight upturn in form.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero has been offered a contract by Barcelona, according to TyC Sports. City have publicly declared they will not make a call on off-contract Aguero's future until the close season.

- AS reports that Real Madrid are willing to listen to offers for French centre-back Raphael Varane this close season. It is claimed he is interested in playing in the Premier League.

- Milan are keen to sign 22-year-old PSV forward Donyell Malen, according to Calciomercato. This is despite the probable renewal of veteran Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

- Bild reports that Wolfsburg coach Oliver Glasner is ready to quit his post amid a breakdown in his relationship with sporting director Jorg Schmadtke, with Borussia Monchengladbach a potential new home with Marco Rose to depart for Borussia Dortmund.

Barcelona midfielder Pedri conceded Lionel Messi's saved penalty was a "big blow" in their Champions League last-16 exit, but blamed wasting numerous chances.

The Catalans prematurely exited the Champions League 5-2 on aggregate to Paris Saint-Germain after a second-leg 1-1 draw in the French capital.

Pedri admitted Barca's 4-1 first-leg defeat left them with plenty to do in Paris but argued they had the better chances.

Messi cancelled out Kylian Mbappe's penalty opener before the Argentinian had a spot-kick saved by Keylor Navas on the stroke of half-time which could have given Barca the momentum to kick on in the second half.

Messi's miss was his first failed penalty attempt in the Champions League since February 2015, having scored his previous eight spot-kicks.

"We knew it'd be vital to take our chances," Pedri said post-game. "We produced a really good game but we missed big chances.

"We believed we could produce another big fightback and qualify but the penalty just before half-time was a big blow to miss.

"We kept on fighting and you can't define a result or a game looking just at a missed penalty. We had many chances and didn't take them."

Barcelona had 21 shots compared to PSG's seven, including 10 on target, while they had 73 per cent possession.

Forward Antoine Griezmann agreed that profligacy in front of goal cost the Catalans.

"It's a real shame, I'd say there were four clear-cut opportunities plus the penalty," Griezmann said.

"If you don't put them away, it's harder later in the game. Nevertheless, it was a completely different contest to the first leg."

Barca's failure to reach the Champions League quarter-finals was their first since 2006-07; having been on the longest-run in the competition's history of 13 consecutive last-eight appearances.

France international Griezmann vowed they would return in 2021-22 to challenge for the European crown.

"It's time to keep our heads up and feel confidence because of how we played," he said.

"We need to keep improving for the season to come. We are hacked off because we were desperate to go through. I don't think we deserved to go out this early but next year we'll try to win this competition."

Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Keylor Navas has dedicated his penalty save from Lionel Messi's spot-kick to absent team-mate Sergio Rico.

Navas denied Messi from the penalty spot in first-half additional time and helped PSG complete a 5-2 aggregate victory over Barcelona in the Champions League last-16 on Wednesday.

The match finished 1-1 with Kylian Mbappe opening the scoring on the half-hour mark before Messi levelled with a long-range rifle in the 37th minute.

Navas made his penalty save on the stroke of half-time, dedicating it to Rico post-game with his team-mate absent due to personal reasons.

"It's always difficult, especially against Messi who shoots very well," Navas told RMC Sport post-game.

"It gives a lot of joy to everyone. This penalty is for Sergio Rico who is going through difficult times with his family, it is for him."

Navas and Messi are long-time adversaries from the Costa Rican's time at Real Madrid, with his low save with his knee representing a major win.

The save, one of several from Navas, played a major part in PSG thwarting any potential Barcelona response as they rallied following their 4-1 first-leg defeat in Spain.

"It was a very great match for Barca, they pushed to the maximum," Navas said.

"We are very motivated to continue in this competition, with this state of mind. We must be united for this competition.

"The group has clear objectives in mind. This is what helps us to progress to go far in this competition."

If Lionel Messi is to leave Barcelona at the end of the season it will not be due to doubts over the club's direction, according to boss Ronald Koeman. 

The Catalan giants were knocked out of the Champions League in the last-16 stage on Wednesday after a 1-1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes. 

That followed the Ligue 1 side's thumping 4-1 win in the first leg at Camp Nou last month and means Barca have failed to reach the quarter-finals of the competition for the first time since the 2006-07 season. Their run of 13 consecutive last-eight appearances was the longest in Champions League history. 

Messi, who cancelled out Kylian Mbappe's opener with a stunning strike before missing a penalty, has been tipped to leave on a free transfer at the end of the season, with PSG and Premier League leaders Manchester City the reported frontrunners for the 33-year-old.

However, new Barca president Joan Laporta is desperate for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner to sign a new deal, while Koeman believes any decision the Argentina international makes about his future will be influenced by the club's commitment to giving young players a chance. 

"Leo has seen for quite some time that the team is improving thanks to all the changes we've made," he told reporters.

"Particularly, we have young players of great quality. We've got a great future ahead. Leo can't have any doubts about what the future holds for this team."

Barca started on the front foot against Mauricio Pochettino's side and only a combination of wayward finishing and smart goalkeeping from Keylor Navas ensured they did not go in at the interval ahead. 

Indeed, they took 16 shots during the opening 45 minutes – the most they have had in the first half of any game since January 2019.

Messi alone had six shots before half-time, which is the joint-highest in this season's Champions League alongside Borussia Monchengladbach's Breel Embolo. 

Despite exiting the competition, Koeman was pleased with his side's display and believes it laid down a marker for next season. 

"Okay, we are out, which is what counts in this sport," he added. "But we leave with good sensations. We had opportunities to make things very complicated for our rival. 

"We were the superior team in the first half, taking big risks at the back with man-to-man marking. Really, we deserved more for that effort. 

"It should at least have been 2-1 to us at half-time. If we'd led at the break, the second half would have been a whole different affair.

"In the first leg they were ultra-effective in front of goal and in this match we weren't. They scored four, here we scored once. That comparison is the big difference across this tie. 

"But no criticism of the lack of cutting edge. We put in a huge effort and merited more; maybe just a hint of luck. Their keeper was the player of the match. We had our chances but couldn't take them.

"We are departing this Champions League in a very different manner from the way we did last season. 

"In this game, we hit our level and that's the road we have to follow. Clearly we are sad but the impression we leave behind after this match is important."

Mauricio Pochettino described Keylor Navas as one of the world's best goalkeepers after he helped Paris Saint-Germain past Barcelona in the Champions League.

A 1-1 draw in Paris on Wednesday sealed PSG's progress to the quarter-finals with a 5-2 aggregate victory over the Catalans.

Barca were much improved compared to their first-leg display and were the dominant force in the first half in particular, firing in 16 shots, the most PSG have faced at home in the first 45 minutes of a game all season.

Lionel Messi's stunning goal cancelled out a Kylian Mbappe penalty and the Argentina star had the chance to make it 2-1 before half-time only for Navas to keep out his spot-kick.

That was one of nine saves made by the former Real Madrid keeper, whose efforts ensured Barca's threat of a comeback had largely dissipated by the final quarter of the match.

Navas' display was a timely reminder of his qualities following a report in England suggesting Pochettino is interested in signing Manchester United's David de Gea for next season.

The PSG boss appears to be perfectly happy with the number one he has at his disposal.

"Keylor had a huge game," he told RMC Sport. "We can say his actions show his quality. He just proves that he's at the highest level in the world.

"I think we all saw him tonight."

Defender Marquinhos was also full of praise for Navas for largely keeping Barca at bay in the first half, in which the visitors had 73 per cent of the ball.

"It was a tough match. We knew the context was going to be different compared to the first leg," he said.

"Since that defeat, Barca put together better matches. They had the courage to press very high and put us in difficulty to get the ball out.

"There are good and bad times in football. In a match, you have to know how to hold on. We were able to do that, with the help of our great goalkeeper, who made the difference.

"We were better in the second half and we deserved to go through."

Another year, another early Champions League exit for Barcelona.

Despite Lionel Messi's sparkling intransigence, there was to be no second 'remontada' against Paris Saint-Germain. After Roma, Liverpool and Bayern Munich in the past three years, 2021 saw Barca dance their last tango in Paris, a sixth season in a row of knockout failure. The opponents change, but the story stays the same.

Or does it?

This was not Rome, nor Anfield, nor Lisbon, the scene of last year's 8-2 annihilation by Bayern. This was not Barca collapsing under pressure, wilting before foreign crowds or just plain giving up. Their 5-2 aggregate loss to PSG was born of a wretched first-leg performance, but they are not the team they were just three weeks ago. At Parc des Princes, they showed that. Messi showed that.

Since that 4-1 loss at Camp Nou, Barca have won four games and drawn two, conceding just two goals, a penalty here and against Cadiz. They have closed back to within six points of LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid, breathing life into a title challenge that had looked over in the autumn.

In a Copa del Rey comeback against Sevilla, they played with verve and passion seldom seen in the recent years of squad mismanagement and boardroom chaos. And while they didn't beat PSG, they were the dominant side and thwarted mostly by man-of-the-match Keylor Navas, their performance in a different stratosphere to that sad clown act against Bayern a year ago.

We're into a new era now, of course. Joan Laporta, the man who appointed Pep Guardiola, who oversaw Messi's introduction to the world stage and counts the club captain as a friend, was voted in as president again on Sunday. He assured members he was their best chance of seeing Messi sign a new contract; what he saw on Wednesday as he watched from the stands will not have dissolved that belief.

What Messi wants, what he has always wanted, is a winning project. His protracted and ultimately futile efforts to leave last year were fuelled not just by the ugliness of Josep Maria Bartomeu's final months as president, but by the fear that winning the biggest trophies on offer – this trophy, to be precise – had slipped away. He wants a coach with a plan, a team with panache, and a collective drive to knit it together.

If he had none of that in the first leg, he certainly did in Paris.

Without first-choice centre-backs in Gerard Pique and Ronald Araujo, Ronald Koeman dropped Frenkie de Jong into a back three with Clement Lenglet and Oscar Mingueza. It meant attacking full-backs, Pedri and Sergio Busquets could all be accommodated behind Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele. At an average age of 26 years and 166 days old, it was also Barcelona's youngest starting XI in a Champions League knockout tie since they beat Stuttgart 4-0 in March 2010 under Guardiola.

It was a bold set-up, and the players embraced it. They had 73 per cent of the ball in the first half, attempting 10 shots in the first 26 minutes, just two short of their total from the first leg. Dembele could have scored twice but for Navas; Mingueza narrowly missed contact with a clear header. Barca ended the half with 16 attempts, the most in the first 45 minutes of a game since January 2019 against Levante, and the most by far faced by PSG in a first half at home all season.

Kylian Mbappe perhaps thought the tie was dead when he swept home from the spot against the run of play, Lenglet punished by VAR for an entirely accidental trip on Mauro Icardi, but Messi had other ideas. His equaliser was a sensational, swerving strike that had Navas grasping at thin air. He should have made it 2-1 before the break, but Navas' leg and the underside of the crossbar combined to keep out his penalty. An inch or two either way, and they really would have believed.

That was the key difference to those awful European nights experienced by Messi since he last won this trophy six years ago. Where before came embarrassment, anger and inquests, here there was disappointment – but reason to hope. They outplayed last season's beaten finalists on their own patch in a way that looked impossible a month ago.

Barca are not where they want to be – far from it – and this season will still be remembered for failure in Europe. But they are, as a club, at last moving in the right direction. Whether Messi chooses to be part of that progress next season is, even now, difficult to predict. And if this was the last time we saw him in this tournament in a Barca shirt, at least it was a more fitting farewell.

Kylian Mbappe made history as Paris Saint-Germain booked their place in the Champions League last eight with a 1-1 draw against Barcelona at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday. 

Mbappe plundered a stunning hat-trick to help Mauricio Pochettino's side to a 4-1 first-leg win at Camp Nou last month and the World Cup winner opened the scoring in Paris, whipping home from the penalty spot shortly after the half-hour mark. 

That goal saw him overtake Lionel Messi as the youngest player to reach 25 goals in the competition, aged 22 years and 80 days, but the Barca talisman had his say soon after, thundering home a glorious equaliser from outside the area. 

Barca's hopes of becoming the first side in Champions League history to progress from a knockout tie after losing the first leg at home by a margin of three goals evaporated before the interval when Navas kept out Messi's penalty, PSG seeing out the second half with the minimum of fuss to seal a 5-2 aggregate triumph. 

Ousmane Dembele was guilty of squandering a number of fine opportunities inside the opening 20 minutes as Barca started on the front foot. 

Keylor Navas tipped Sergino Dest's powerful drive onto the crossbar before Mbappe gave the hosts an undeserved lead after 31 minutes, the France international powering home from the spot after Clement Lenglet had tripped Mauro Icardi. 

However, Messi pulled Barca level soon after with a stunning 25-yard strike into Navas' top-right corner – only Cristiano Ronaldo (20) has scored more Champions League goals from outside the area than the Argentinian's 19.

Messi should have added a second before half-time after Layvin Kurzawa had fouled Antoine Griezmann in the area, but Navas repelled his spot-kick – his first miss from 12 yards since February 2015. 

A superb tackle from Marquinhos prevented Messi scoring from close range shortly after the hour mark, while Navas kept out Sergio Busquets' header at his near post. 

Mbappe blazed over after a surging run in the closing stages, but it mattered little in the end as last year's beaten finalists booked their place in the quarter-finals in style.
 

Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe made Champions League history on Wednesday with his penalty against Barcelona. 

The France international powered home from the spot after 31 minutes to claim Lionel Messi's record as the youngest player to reach 25 goals in the competition, aged 22 years and 80 days. 

After a hat-trick in the first leg last month, Mbappe has now scored four goals against Barca this term - the most a player has ever scored against the Catalan club in a single season in the competition.

Messi cancelled out Mbappe's goal soon after with a stunning effort from distance, taking his tally of Champions League goals from outside the area to 19.

Since his debut in the competition in December 2004, only Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more from range in the tournament (20).

Messi then blotted his copybook by missing a penalty before half-time – the first time he has failed to score from the spot in the Champions League since February 2015 against Manchester City.

Gianluigi Donnarumma is out of contract at the end of the season, so where will he be playing in 2021-22?

The Milan and Italy goalkeeper – still in discussions with the Rossoneri – has attracted interest from across Europe.

Manchester United and Chelsea are reportedly circling.

 

TOP STORY – DONNARUMMA WANTED IN ENGLAND

Manchester United and Chelsea are considering signing Milan star Gianluigi Donnarumma as a free agent, according to The Transfer Window podcast.

Donnarumma is out of contract at the end of the season, though Tuttosport reports he and Milan remain in contract discussions.

Serie A champions Juventus and Ligue 1 titleholders Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked.

Sky Sports says United are also targeting Atletico Madrid's Jan Oblak amid doubts over David de Gea's future.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Daily Mail claims United, Liverpool and Bayern Munich are eyeing Chelsea's Christian Pulisic. The United States international has found himself out of favour under new manager Thomas Tuchel at Stamford Bridge.

- The wish list of new Barcelona president Joan Laporta has been revealed. Sport reports aside from Manchester City defender Eric Garcia and Lyon captain Memphis Depay, Laporta is also targeting Sergio Aguero and Bayern star David Alaba, as well as in-demand Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland.

Arsenal want to sign Inter full-back Achraf Hakimi as a replacement for Hector Bellerin, according to the Telegraph. Bellerin has been linked to PSG and Barca.

- Sport Bild reports Bundesliga champions Bayern will let veteran defender Jerome Boateng leave amid his links with Chelsea.

Barcelona's Champions League campaign feels all but over as they head to Paris Saint-Germain nursing a 4-1 last-16 deficit.

Kylian Mbappe made merry at Camp Nou last month, netting a brilliant hat-trick after Lionel Messi gave the hosts a first-half lead.

The fact the defeat came on their own patch makes Barca's hopes even more remote, but they've been on both sides of incredible recent Champions League comebacks – most famously in this very fixture.

Here, we look at some of the nights in Europe's top competition where logic left town.

2019: Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (4-3 on aggregate)

Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool had been well beaten at Camp Nou, with the 3-0 scoreline flattering Barcelona but making the Catalans clear favourites to complete their semi-final task on Merseyside.

Liverpool were without injured forwards Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino for the second leg, yet two goals each from Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum saw the hosts defy the odds in sensational style.

They were Origi's first goals in the competition, while only 122 seconds separated Wijnaldum's pair in a pivotal period that left Anfield rocking.

Origi had the final word thanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold's quick thinking from a 79th-minute corner.

It meant a Barcelona side boasting Messi – who was involved in all of Barca's eight attempts on goal with five shots and three key passes - and former Liverpool stars Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez were left devastated, while Klopp's men celebrated reaching the Madrid final.

2019: Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (5-3 on aggregate)

Despite an impressive display in their 2-1 first-leg defeat, few thought Ajax could turn things around at the Santiago Bernabeu. Madrid's Sergio Ramos certainly did not - he earned a first-leg booking to avoid the risk of a quarter-final ban, receiving an extra-game suspension from UEFA in the process.

In the absence of their captain, Madrid capitulated against a fearless and thrilling Ajax. Hakim Ziyech and David Neres put the visitors 2-0 up after only 18 minutes and it was 3-0 just after the hour thanks to the inspired Dusan Tadic.

Marco Asensio got a goal back, but Lasse Schone's free-kick beat Thibaut Courtois and sent Madrid crashing out on the back of their heaviest margin of defeat in a European knockout game. It was the first time Madrid had ever been knocked out after winning the first leg of a Champions League tie, while Ajax would themselves be stung by a comeback in the semi-finals.

2019: Ajax 2-3 Tottenham (3-3 agg)

Ajax looked certain finalists when they extended their 1-0 first-leg lead to 3-0 on aggregate in Amsterdam, thanks to first-half goals from Matthijs de Ligt and Ziyech.

Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs took inspiration from Liverpool's stunning fightback against Barcelona 24 hours earlier, though, and Lucas Moura stepped up to emerge as their hero.

The Brazilian winger was thrust into a central attacking role and scored an improbable hat-trick – just the fifth time the feat had been accomplished in a Champions League semi-final - in the second half, the vital third goal coming deep into stoppage time, as Spurs won on away goals.

2018: Roma 3-0 Barcelona (4-4 agg)

Barcelona were stunned in the Italian capital as Roma completed one of the most unlikely quarter-final turnarounds.

Eusebio Di Francesco's side came back from a 4-1 first-leg deficit to progress to the last four on away goals after a thrilling 3-0 win in front of their home fans.

Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas secured the 4-4 aggregate draw and sent the Stadio Olimpico into raptures, as Barca fell to pieces.

2017: Barcelona 6-1 Paris Saint-Germain (6-5 agg)

Before being humbled by Roma and Liverpool, Barcelona pulled off an astonishing Champions League comeback of their own - the greatest so far in terms of the deficit overhauled and one that PSG fans will still shudder to be reminded of this week

Trailing 4-0 from the first leg of their last-16 tie with PSG, Suarez and Messi scored either side of a Layvin Kurzawa own goal, only for Edinson Cavani to grab what was expected to be the decisive away goal for the visitors.

However, two quickfire Neymar goals against his future club – the second a highly controversial penalty after Suarez took a tumble – levelled the tie at 5-5.

Then, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Sergi Roberto struck to create a slice of Champions League history – no side had ever turned around a four-goal first-leg deficit before.

2004: Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 Milan (5-4 agg)

Deportivo were among Spain's major forces just after the turn of the century and one of their finest moments in Europe came in April 2004 when, despite being 4-1 down from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final with Milan, they stunned the Rossoneri at the Riazor.

Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valeron and Albert Luque had Depor ahead on away goals before half-time, with veteran Fran Gonzalez scoring the fourth to make sure of their passage.

Depor were eliminated by eventual winners Porto in the semi-finals, but this comeback stood as arguably the very best in Champions League history until Barca went one better.

2000: Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea (aet, 6-4 agg)

Another time Barcelona overturned the odds.

A 3-1 first-leg loss at Stamford Bridge – having trailed 3-0 – had Barca in danger of being on the wrong end of a major Champions League upset prior to Chelsea's Roman Abramovich era, but in the return match the Catalan giants showed their true class.

Tore Andre Flo's 60th-minute goal was sending Chelsea through despite Rivaldo and Luis Figo scoring before the break, but Dani Garcia headed home in the 83rd-minute to force extra time.

Rivaldo atoned for an earlier missed penalty by converting from the spot after Celestine Babayaro was sent off and Patrick Kluivert finished the game off, crushing Chelsea's dreams.

Last season's beaten finalists Paris Saint-Germain are red-hot favourites to advance to the Champions League quarter-finals when Barcelona visit the Parc des Princes for the second leg of their last-16 clash on Wednesday. 

Mauricio Pochettino's side hold a three-goal advantage after Kylian Mbappe's hat-trick helped them seal a stunning 4-1 win over Barca in the first leg last month.

Liverpool are in a strong position to join them in the last eight, with Jurgen Klopp's side taking on RB Leipzig at Anfield after running out 2-0 winners in the reverse fixture. 

The German club, though, might just fancy their chances of causing an upset against the Premier League champions, who have lost six of their last eight matches across all competitions. 

We used Opta numbers to preview the two clashes.

Paris Saint-Germain (4) v (1) Barcelona: Blaugrana out to make history

Barca will have to make history if they are to book the most unlikely of last-eight places, with no side ever having progressed in the competition after losing the first leg at home by a margin of three goals.

The game marks the first Champions League meeting between the sides at the Parc des Princes since February 2017, when the Ligue 1 team recorded a 4-0 victory. 

That remains PSG's biggest margin of victory in a home knockout game in the competition, while it is also Barca's joint-heaviest defeat in a knockout game away from home in the competition (also 0-4 against Liverpool in May 2019 and against Bayern in April 2013).

While the onus is on Barca to score freely, do not be surprised to see the hosts do just that themselves. They have netted at least once in each of their last 22 Champions League games at home (61 goals), in a run that dates back to December 2015. 

Spearheading their attack will be Mbappe, who will become the youngest player to reach 25 goals in the Champions League if he scores (aged 22 years and 80 days), taking the record from Lionel Messi. 

Barca talisman Messi has only ended on the losing side in four of the 75 Champions League games he has scored in. However, half of these have come against PSG – the first-leg defeat and a 3-2 loss at the Parc des Princes in September 2014.

Should Messi and his team-mates slip to defeat it will mark the first time the LaLiga giants have lost three Champions League matches in a row.

Liverpool (2) v (0) RB Leipzig: Reds have the edge over German opposition 

With a two-goal advantage from the first leg, Liverpool will expect to continue their run of never having been eliminated from a Champions League knockout tie after winning away from home in the first leg.

The game will be the 21st time the Reds have hosted German opposition across all European competitions. They are unbeaten in the previous 20 of those (16 wins, four draws), scoring 52 goals and conceding just nine.  

Central to their chances of extending that run will be two players who have enjoyed themselves in the Champions League in recent seasons. 

Since the start of the 2017-18 campaign, Roberto Firmino is one of only three players in double figures for both goals (15) and assists (11) in the competition, along with Messi and Mbappe. 

Mohamed Salah, meanwhile, is Liverpool's top scorer in the competition, netting 23 goals in 40 games for the Reds. If he scores a brace in this game, he will reach 25 goals for an English club in the second-fewest appearances, following Ruud van Nistelrooy for Manchester United (27).

If Leipzig are to have any chance of causing an upset they will need to improve dramatically on their last away clash with an English side, the Bundesliga club suffering their heaviest defeat in European competition against Manchester United at Old Trafford back in October (0-5).

Only four of their 12 wins in the Champions League have been achieved by more than a one-goal margin (33 per cent).

However, the last time they won by two or more goals in the knockout stages of the competition was against Spurs last season (3-0 in the last-16 second leg).

Rivaldo believes Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos would be a good signing for bitter LaLiga rivals Barcelona.

Ramos is out of contract at the end of the season and the superstar defender is yet to agree a new contract with the LaLiga champions.

The 34-year-old Spain skipper has been linked to the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus.

Rivaldo, who won two LaLiga titles among other honours during his time with Barca, backed Ramos for a controversial move to Camp Nou.

"A player has to be professional, and if you have good offers, I don't think it's okay to hear them," former Brazil international Rivaldo told Betfair.

"Of course, Sergio Ramos would be a good signing for Barcelona. It would be historic and it would be controversial because of Sergio Ramos' history with Real Madrid."

Ramos has called Madrid home since joining from Sevilla in 2005, winning five LaLiga trophies, four Champions League titles, as many Club World Cup crowns and three UEFA Super Cup medals among 22 major honours at the Santiago Bernabeu.

There is also speculation over Lionel Messi's future, with the Barca skipper tipped to leave the Catalan powerhouse on a free transfer at season's end.

Messi – a record six-time Ballon d'Or winner – has been heavily linked with Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain and Premier League leaders City.

"If I were [PSG head coach Mauricio] Pochettino, I would tell the owner of PSG that we'd better stay the way we are before bringing in Messi," Rivaldo said. "I like Messi, but [Kylian] Mbappe is at home and there would also be everyone in their team.

"It is difficult to talk about a change from Messi to Mbappe, because football is money and if Messi goes to PSG, he will have many economic benefits. But of course, Messi is already more than 30 years old and in PSG there is already Mbappe with 22 years. It is difficult.

"PSG, I repeat, I think they do not need any signings because they have a great team… but football is also a business."

Pep Guardiola has congratulated Joan Laporta on his election as Barcelona president and believes he will bring the feel-good factor back to Camp Nou.

Laporta was previously Barca president between 2003 and 2010, a spell that included hiring Guardiola to be head coach in 2008, starting an extraordinary run of success.

He has now returned to the role following a landslide election win over rivals Victor Font and Toni Freixa on Sunday.

One of his first points of business will be resolving the future of Lionel Messi, who has been strongly linked with a reunion with Guardiola at Manchester City, as well as Paris Saint-Germain.

Guardiola praised Laporta for his convincing win and believes his impact will be felt promptly.

"All I can say is that it was a lovely journey," said Guardiola when he was asked about Barca's election.

"All three options were there, they did a good job and I congratulate the president to be elected by a big margin. 

"I'm pretty sure his personality will introduce a good mood, a lot of optimism in the club and all the country.

"I wish him all the best for the season and the next seasons."

Guardiola won three LaLiga trophies and two Champions League titles in four seasons in charge of Barcelona, who are presently managed by Ronald Koeman.

Barca, like City, are in the Champions League last 16 but the Catalans face an uphill task to progress as they trail PSG 4-1 on aggregate.

They will play in Paris almost immediately after Guardiola and City - who are looking to bounce back from defeat to Manchester United - have hosted Southampton in the Premier League on Wednesday.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.