After drawing Barcelona 2-2 in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal, Carlo Ancelotti and his Paris Saint-Germain side head to Camp Nou to face a powerhouse in the middle of a perfect storm.
If ever there was a good time to face Barcelona, it would be now.
With Lionel Messi potentially handicapped by a hamstring injury and Javier Mascherano ruled out by a bad knee, both Barca's attack and defense are at less than full strength.
And a defense at less than 100 percent pitted against the likes of Ezequiel Lavezzi, Lucas Moura, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, in fine mental and physical form, will not enjoy the best of outings.
PSG need to score and score quickly, as it will take at least a 3-3 draw to advance to the semifinals. Luckily for them, speed is one of their strengths.
Other than 37-year-old David Beckham, PSG are a very mobile side (especially with Moura up front). Using that speed to exploit the Barcelona back line while defensively keeping up with Barca's passing game and recovering from inevitable mistakes (Right-back Christophe Jallet's work rate and stamina will be key), Les Parisiens will be able to put all the pressure on the home side.
Inevitably, some PSG naysayers will use Barca's round-of-16 home 4-0 thumping of AC Milan after falling two goals behind in the first leg as "proof" that only the greatest of the great can head into Camp Nou expecting anything from the result.
However, where AC Milan had the mathematical advantage, PSG are in a much better mindset for their second leg fixture.
While it might sound counterintuitive, the fact that PSG need goals will give Ibrahimovic and Co. a sharp mental edge that Milan never were able to obtain.
No matter what the circumstances, playing to win is easier than playing to not lose by more than two goals.
Facing a side that hasn't lost at home in the Champions League in over four years, Wednesday will be no small task for Paris Saint-Germain.
To make matters more difficult, Tito Vilanova is back on the touchline. Barca have their leader back.
And whether or not Lionel Messi plays, Barcelona are very likely going to score. It's in their nature. It's what they do.
But PSG have the capability to do the same thing, and if Ancelotti has his men in the right frame of mind, they can outrun, outscore and outlast the most dynamic club in world football.
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