Verratti to train as Pochettino looks to help PSG 'remove the past' against Barca

By Sports Desk February 15, 2021

Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Marco Verratti will train ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash with Barcelona, which Mauricio Pochettino is approaching with calm despite the weight of history on his team's shoulders.

Last season's finalists will face Barca at the Camp Nou for the first time since their collapse in the second leg of the last-16 tie between the two teams in 2017.

PSG led 4-0 from the first leg at the Parc des Princes but astonishingly lost 6-1 in the second as Barca pulled off the greatest comeback in Champions League history.

The cast of characters has changed significantly for both clubs since then. Neymar scored twice that night but is now in his fourth season with PSG, though he will miss this meeting with a groin injury.

Angel Di Maria came off the bench for the PSG in the 6-1 defeat but is also out with a thigh problem.

Verratti also featured for a side then coached by Unai Emery and, despite a hip issue, appears poised to play a part in the first leg.

"We are taking it step by step with Marco Verratti," Pochettino told a pre-match media conference. "He is going to train today [Tuesday] and it won't be a particularly demanding one as it is the day before the match.

"We have a strategy and a gameplan that, depending on who is available, will affect our decision."

History suggests having Verratti available will boost PSG's chances.

Their win percentage in the 56 Champions League games he has started since joining from Pescara in 2012 is 60.7, compared to 56 in the 25 games he has either missed or been named on the bench.

Despite their injury concerns and the mystique around the fixture, Pochettino is confident his players can write a new positive chapter in the history between PSG and Barca.

"It is an obvious target for PSG to win the Champions League. That is our responsibility," said Pochettino.

"I always feel my team is ready. The conditions are the conditions. The situation is the reality and we will try to compete at our best tomorrow.

"I am very calm. History is in the past and we are now in a different reality with different players. Whatever happened in the past is behind us and can be removed."

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