Friday's Champions League draw provided fans with a dream quarterfinal matchup when it pitted Paris Saint-Germain against Barcelona.
Sure, guaranteeing two more 90-minute installments of El Clasico, especially with Real Madrid recently having the upper, um, foot against the La Liga leaders, would have been nice. But the intrigue behind this battle is boundless.
Enhancing that intrigue is the asymmetry between the clubs.
On one hand, you have Barcelona. The Spanish giants were formed 113 years ago, defined a culture, garnered world-wide success and showcased the beauty of football in the process.
And more often than not, they have done it with home-grown talent.
Lionel Messi, quite simply the most talented and galvanizing player in the world, spent part of his youth career with Barcelona and, since 2003, hasn't come close to joining another club.
Goalkeeper Victor Valdes, defenders Gerard Pique and Carles Puyol and midfielders Cesc Fabregas, Xavi and Andres Iniesta—a group that could just as easily be defined as the world's best—all spent a majority, if not all, of their youth career with Barca.
Barcelona FC isn't just a football club. It's a way of life for the most talented players in the world beginning at an extremely young age.
Paris Saint-Germain, on the other hand, has taken a bit of a different path toward success.
Just three seasons ago, PSG, which was founded in 1970, finished 13th in Ligue 1 and the thought of ever challenging Barcelona in the Champions League was cockamamie at best.
But as it turns out, having huge monetary sums at the top tends to help a little bit.
Since the Qatar Investment Authority bought a controlling 70 percent of the club and Nasser Ghanim Al-Khelaifi became president in 2011, PSG has vastly improved thanks to a slew of big-time signings:
|Player||Signed From||Transfer Fee|
|Thiago Silva||AC Milan||£34.3 million|
|Zlatan Ibrahimovic||AC Milan||£15.7 million|
|Javier Pastore||Palermo||£37 million|
|Lucas Moura||Sao Paulo||£34.25 million|
And that's just to name a few of the expensive incomers that have vaulted Les Parisiens to the top of Ligue 1 and into one of the biggest matches in club history.
This matchup will go far deeper than a normal quarterfinal UCL battle. It will be a statement on how to successfully build a club, and it will give an in-depth look at the current versatile state of world football.
Throw in the added bonus of Ibrahimovic facing off against his old squad, David Beckham once again going toe-to-toe with a Spanish midfield and Messi (that's it; just Messi), and you have an undeniably attractive quarterfinal.
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