No holding back against Barcelona in second leg – PSG boss

Luis Enrique is convinced Paris Saint-Germain can mount a comeback against Barcelona and reach the Champions League semifinals by taking the game to his former side on Tuesday.

Barça triumphed 3-2 in Paris last Wednesday, ending PSG’s 27-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, and have home advantage in this week’s quarterfinal second leg at the Olympic Stadium.

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PSG coach Luis Enrique was in charge of Barça in 2017 when they overturned a 4-0 defeat to the French side by beating them 6-1 in the return game, but he is now aiming to create history on the other side of the divide.

“PSG have never come back to win after losing a first leg, but [Tuesday] is the day,” Luis Enrique said confidently in a news conference on Monday.

“After a defeat in such an important game, the days after the match were hard. It’s tricky to recover mentally, but the good thing about football is you have another game against the same opponent.

“I thought we at least deserved a draw in the first match. We have to be better this time. We won’t hold back. That phrase does not exist for us and we are convinced we will turn the tie around.

“We will press high and they will play long. I think [Barça goalkeeper Marc-André] ter Stegen broke a record in the first leg for long passes with 24.

“I think this game will be similar. I think there will be goals. The 3-2 scoreline means we have to go for the game.”

Ahead of the first leg, Luis Enrique said he embodies Barcelona’s DNA and style of football better than counterpart Xavi Hernández.

The PSG boss insisted he stands by those comments, but he was keen to add that does not mean he does not appreciate Xavi as a manager.

“I maintain what I said about [Barça DNA] because one defeat or one season is not going to change my mind on that,” Luis Enrique added.

“With respect to Xavi, I said I didn’t know him as a coach, but I also said I would like to have had him as a coach — but it’s controversy which sells.

“To know a coach, you have to know them from the inside. But I repeat, I would have liked to have had Xavi as a coach and I have no doubt that he is a top coach. The results show that.”

Speaking earlier on Monday, Xavi ranked Luis Enrique alongside Pep Guardiola and Luis Aragonés as the most influential coaches he had in his playing career.

Xavi played alongside Luis Enrique at Barça and later played under him in the 2014-15 season, which ended with the Blaugrana winning a treble and was the last time they won the Champions League.

“Luis Enrique’s teams always play attacking football,” Xavi said in a news conference. “That will be especially true on Tuesday as they are behind after the first leg.

“We are two sides that play on the front foot. It will be a massive football battle. Neither team will hold back.

“It’s a huge opportunity for the club against one of the best teams and coaches in the world. We will need the [Olympic Stadium] to be a cauldron like Camp Nou was on big nights.”

Five-time winners of the competition Barça, who are targeting a first semifinal since 2019, are without the suspended Andreas Christensen and Sergi Roberto for the game. Gavi and Alejandro Balde remain long-term absentees through injury.

PSG, who came closest to winning the Champions League in 2020 when they lost in the final, welcome back right-back Achraf Hakimi, who was suspended for the first leg at the Parc des Princes.

The winners will meet either Atlético Madrid or Borussia Dortmund in the last four.