Paris Saint-Germain club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi and his colleagues are full of respect for their next UEFA Champions League rivals Barcelona after the French champions were again drawn against the La Liga giants on Monday.
“Once again we have drawn FC Barcelona, a team we have a great deal of respect for. We played against them six times in the last four seasons so this is becoming a classic UEFA Champions League fixture,” Al-Khelaifi told PSG’s website soon after the draw was made in Nyon, Switzerland.
“Barcelona are a team that our Spanish coach and players know well and we are excited about the prospect of facing them,” he added.
“It will be two great matches and we will be ready for them at the Parc des Princes in February. With our fans behind us, we are confident of progressing through to the next round of the UEFA Champions League,” continued the Qatari.
The club’s director of football Patrick Kluivert echoed his boss in an interview with local broadcaster beIN Sports 2, calling the fixtures against Barca “two huge matches”.
“Barcelona are a really good team, but we have our strengths too. We have played on numerous occasions, and each time they have been fantastic matches,” he said.
“At the Parc des Princes and at the Nou Camp – they will be two huge matches. We know we’ll be up against a great team, but it won’t be simple for them either,” concluded the former Dutch international.
Les Parisiens’ coach Unai Emery, who joined the side this summer from three-time Europa League winners Sevilla of La Liga, agreed, and said his side is looking forward to the Barca match.
“Barca are a huge team and it will be an amazing fixture. But it will be tough for both teams. We’re happy to be taking on a side like Barcelona in the round of 16. We’ll work hard, get super-motivated and try to qualify by playing two huge matches,” he said.
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Lucas added: “We’ll have to play well, as they’re a big team with great players – a team that wins a lot. But we believe in ourselves, and I think we can turn in two huge performances and win. We’ll do our best to have two big games and qualify.”
This is the third time in the past five seasons that PSG and Barcelona will have met in the knockout stages of the competition, with Barca having previously advanced twice at the expense of PSG.