Barcelona v PSG: Star absences point to low-goals encounter

Barcelona and Argentina no.10 Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi score twice in Barcelona's 5-1 win over Alaves at the weekend

PSG's depleted attack and their clear defensive strengths are keys to the potential outcome at Camp Nou on Tuesday night, writes James Eastham...

"With Neymar and Di Maria absent, PSG will be less dangerous than usual in the opposition half. And Barcelona’s attack has often underperformed versus face high-calibre opposition this season."

Best Bet: Back Barcelona v PSG Under 3.0 Goals @ 2.111/10

Barcelona v PSG
Tue, 20:00 GMT
Live on BT Sport 3

Neymar massive loss for visitors

Gerard Pique, Sergio Roberto, Philippe Coutinho, Ansu Fati and Martin Braithwaite are all out for Barcelona.

Neymar is out through injury for PSG, while the loss of Angel Di Maria is a further blow. The pair's absence means that Kylian Mbappe will start in attack without either of the two for the first time in a Champions League match since he joined PSG.

Marco Verratti is a minor doubt with a rib injury.

Impossible to split well-matched rivals

While these two clubs harbour ambitions of winning Europe's premier club trophy there are few reasons to back either of them to go all the way with any confidence right now.

Barcelona might have thrashed Alaves 5-1 at the weekend, with goals from Lionel Messi (2), Francisco Trincao (2) and Junior Firpo. But they trail La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid by eight points having played a game more and were beaten 2-0 at Sevilla in the Copa del Rey last Wednesday.

Normally runaway leaders by this stage of the season, PSG have been unable to shake off Lille and Lyon at the top of Ligue 1. They have yet to improve in any discernible way since Mauricio Pochettino replaced Thomas Tuchel as the manager over the New Year.

Taking all factors into account it looks fair that the market gives these two sides a 50-50 chance of making the last eight: in the 'To Qualify' market the pair are 1.981/1 each.

marquinhos_psg_2020_champs_lge.jpg

But the value lies with PSG

On the night in Spain this week Barcelona are 2.111/10 favourites, with PSG 3.55/2 and The Draw 4.03/1. At first glance this looks fair given that PSG will be without Neymar and Di Maria, so important for them when competing at the highest level.

There may still be some value in siding with the French visitors, however, or at least opposing Barcelona. Barcelona will take some stopping but PSG learned a lot during their run to last season's final.

Centre-backs Marquinhos (pictured above) and Presnel Kimpembe were frequently excellent, and Keylor Navas has been outstanding since joining PSG from Real Madrid 17 months ago.

If, as expected, Verratti is fit to start, then PSG will have another layer of protection thanks to the way that the Italy international cleverly retains the ball in front of the back four.

At a shade over evens, a lay of Barcelona is a tempting selection. Alternatively, consider backing PSG in the Draw No Bet market. With this pick, you'd make a profit if PSG were to win on the night, and would get your stakes back if the game ended all-square.

Low goals the smartest option

The same sense of how this game might unfold leads to the second selection.

With Neymar and Di Maria absent, PSG will be less dangerous than usual in the opposition half. Mbappe will be a threat, of course, and Moise Kean and Mauro Icardi have been in fine scoring form, but lack of service for the three players will be a concern.

Under 2.5 Goals is available at 2.6613/8. These odds look rather big considering that two of PSG's most dangerous three attackers will be absent. And this season we've seen that Barcelona's attack can underperform when they face high-calibre opposition.

As well as failing to score at Sevilla last Wednesday, Barcelona scored just once at home to Real Madrid (1-3) in October and failed to score at Atletico Madrid (1-0 defeat) in November. They netted twice at Juventus (2-0) in the Champions League group stages but failed to score at home in the return fixture (0-3).

If PSG defend as they did en route to last season's final they ought to limit the threat Barcelona pose.

The odds-against price of 2.77/4 on Under 2.5 Goals is worth considering. Alternatively, look at the Goal Lines market, where there are a range of other options.

We would recommend backing Under 3.0 Goals, also at odds-against. With this selection, you'll get your stakes back if there are exactly three goals, and make a profit if there are two or fewer goals.

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James’ 2020-21 Champions League P/L

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Returned: +9.90pts
P/L: -0.10pts

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