Mon, Mar 06, 2017 - Page 11 News List

Barca aim for a PSG ‘miracle’ after Messi rout


Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, right, controls the ball past Celta’s Sergi Gomez, left, and Gustavo Cabral to shoot and score the opening goal on Saturday during their La Liga soccer match at the Camp Nou in Barcelona, Spain.

Photo: AP

Ivan Rakitic believes “a miracle” is possible when Barcelona attempt to overturn a 4-0 first leg deficit against Paris Saint-Germain in their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday.

No side in Champions League history has ever come back from four goals down, but Barcelona’s hopes were raised by the sensational form of Lionel Messi in Saturday’s 5-0 rout of RC Celta de Vigo.

“We will give everything from the first minute to the last,” Messi told Spanish TV station Movistar. “We will try and hopefully we can produce a miracle.”

Messi scored two incredible individual goals to open and close the scoring as Barca remained one point clear of Real Madrid at the top of La Liga.

The five-time FIFA World Player of the Year award winner had a hand in all three other goals too, as he teed up Neymar for a sensational chip and crossed for Samuel Umtiti to score his first Barca goal, while Rakitic was also on the scoresheet.

In their first outing since coach Luis Enrique announced he will step down at the end of the season, Barca produced arguably their best performance of the campaign.

The Catalans also smashed Real Sporting de Gijon 6-1 in their previous outing — both scorelines which would be good enough when PSG visit this week.

And Enrique said he could not have wished for a better build-up to the ultimate challenge.

“That it is one of our best performances in the last few months is without doubt,” he said. “If I had to choose the way in which we would go into the Champions League game against PSG it would be very similar to these last two games: scoring lots of goals, the team gaining confidence and the players getting stronger.”

“I think we are in great form for a very difficult tie, that is not lost yet. I am sure we are going to have opportunities to get ourselves back in it and we will try until the death,” Enrique said.

Enrique’s name was chanted by an enthralled crowd at the Camp Nou on Saturday.

Banners were also raised toward the end of the match willing Barca’s players to believe in the most unlikely of comebacks against PSG.

“The fans value a lot what these players have won, the hunger they have and what they show in every game,” Enrique added. “In my time here I have never once seen a poor attitude in any of my players. Barca fans should be loyal and, above all, have confidence that the team can come back.”

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