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Barca face French ‘richies’, Bayern host Juve

Barca face French ‘richies’, Bayern host Juve
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Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona have reached the pinnacle of the European game with very different strategies, and the Catalans will be hoping to show their nouveau riche opponents that their way is still the best way when the clubs meet in the Champions League quarter-final first leg on Tuesday.

PSG have been here before, but not for a long time. This is their first Champions League quarter-final since they beat Barcelona 3-2 on aggregate before losing to Milan in the last four 18 years ago.

Top of Ligue 1, and on course to win the domestic title for the first time since 1994, these are good times to be a Paris supporter, even if their club appears to epitomise the exact opposite of Barcelona.

PSG can compete with the best in the business because they have had more money than anyone else since the arrival of new Qatari owners in 2011.

A whole new team has been bought, with Thiago Silva, once a Barcelona target, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who played for the Catalans in 2010-11, the most significant recruits.

Aiming to win the Champions League for the fourth time in eight seasons, Barcelona are one of the richest clubs in the world too, and are also backed by Qatari investment via a shirt sponsorship deal with the Qatar Foundation.

But they lead the way when it comes to producing world-class players, rather than simply buying them.

The rousing comeback from a first-leg defeat to beat AC Milan 4-2 on aggregate in the last 16 has restored confidence, while the squad are relieved to have coach Tito Vilanova back taking training again after two months in New York receiving cancer treatment. ‘To see Tito again gave us great happiness,’ said Messi. ‘It is important to have him with us for the run-in. He looks in good shape and is raring to go.’

Juventus will enter Tuesday’s heavyweight clash with Bayern Munich with smiles on their faces, an 18-match unbeaten record in Europe behind them and no concerns about the Bavarians’ nine-goal demolition of Hamburg.

Tuesday’s quarterfinal first leg is a match where the Champions League can live up to its hype, with teams who have dominated the season in Germany and Italy respectively and share 50 domestic titles between them.

Italian champions Juventus come into the game with a nine-point lead at home and well on course for a 29th Serie A title. ‘We’ll head to Munich with a spring in our step knowing that we’ve done our job on the domestic front,’ said Juventus coach Antonio Conte after beating Inter on Saturday.
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