PSG v Barcelona: Underrated hosts ready to upset highly-fancied visitors

Will PSG bring Lionel Messi and Barcelona to their knees on Tuesday night?
Will PSG bring Lionel Messi and Barcelona to their knees on Tuesday night?
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After picking seven winners from eight selections on the Champions League this season, James Eastham underlines the smart bets ahead of Tuesday's big game at Parc des Princes...

"PSG have won nine and drawn one of 10 matches in all competitions since the start of the year. There are signs the hosts are ready for what the visitors will throw at them."

Best Bet: The Draw @ 3.613/5

PSG v Barcelona
Tue, 19:45 GMT
Live on BT Sport Showcase/BT Sport 2


Introduction

PSG will run out in front of a full house at Parc des Princes looking to overcome the odds and record a famous victory against the more highly-rated visitors.

Unai Emery's hosts have good team news: midfielder Thiago Motta is the only strong first-team contender absent from proceedings. France international Adrien Rabiot is expected to deputise.

For Barcelona, full-back Alex Vidal has been ruled out and Javier Mascherano is also missing (thigh injury). The visitors ought to be strong in all other areas, with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar expected to line-up in attack as usual.


Match Odds
PSG 3.65, Barcelona 2.26/5, The Draw 3.613/5

It's no surprise to find PSG are underdogs - but do they really deserve to be as large as 3.65 to beat Barcelona in Paris on Tuesday night?

Man for man and collectively the visitors are the superior side but Emery's hosts have made an excellent start to 2017 and go into this game with a quiet sense of confidence.

PSG have won nine and drawn one of 10 matches in all competitions since the start of the year, scoring 29 goals and conceding just four times. True, the standard of opposition they face in France hardly compares to Barcelona, but there are obvious signs that PSG are ready for what the visitors will throw at them.

Barcelona's 10-match form is nearly as impressive (W8-D2-L0, 31 goals scored, six conceded), and their front three have the talent to win this game on their own. But PSG's performances over the past six weeks suggest the odds ought to be a little closer than they are.

A lay of Barcelona or The Draw at 3.613/5 would be the picks in this market.


Under/Over 2.5 Goals
Unders 2.111/10, Overs 1.84/5

These two sides are both more effective offensively than defensively, between them averaging three goals a game in all competitions since the start of the year.

It's therefore a minor surprise to see Overs only the minor favourite in this market. Obviously this is only the first leg of a two-legged tie, and to some extent both sides may wish to keep their powder dry for the return fixture at Camp Nou.

But there's simply no denying the fact that the attacking talent on show points towards goals. Barcelona's 'MSN' trio are capable of causing havoc, while PSG's boast one of Europe's top strikers in Edinson Cavani.

Suarez's Uruguay team-mate may continue to be lambasted for missing chances but it's difficult to argue with his stats: Cavani has 25 goals in 22 Ligue 1 starts this season, plus six goals in six Champions League appearances in the autumn. Julian Draxler ought to prove an able foil having made an excellent start to his PSG career following his £33 million move from Wolfsburg in January.

Of the two options in this market, Overs is the pick.


Both Teams to Score?
Yes 1.674/6, No 2.265/4

An alternative to backing 'Yes' in the Over 2.5 Goals market would be to do the same in this market instead. The odds are lower, but you'll have the 1-1 draw covered, which is worth considering given that PSG may make this a closer game than the Match Odds market suggests.


Recommended Bets
The Draw @ 3.613/5
Over 2.5 Goals @ 1.814/5

James' 2016/17 Champions League P/L

Staked: 8pts
Returned: 18.33pts
P/L: +10.33pts (129% ROI)

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