PSG favourites to reach semifinal despite Barcelona win – Xavi

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said Paris Saint-Germain remain favourites to win the teams’ Champions League quarterfinal tie, despite his side winning Wednesday’s first leg 3-2 in the French capital.

Raphinha scored twice and substitute Andreas Christensen headed the winner the 77th minute at the Parc des Princes to give Barcelona the edge heading back to Spain for the second leg next week.

Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, NWSL more (U.S.)

“PSG are still the favourites,” Xavi said in his postgame news conference. “It will be very difficult to win in Barcelona.

“Today we played well because we were united defensively. I’m very proud, everything worked well. We have to improve our concentration in the first minutes of the second half. We managed to mature and recover from a match that became very difficult.”

Barcelona, who beat Napoli in the round of 16, are seeking to reach their first Champions League semifinal since 2019 following back-to-back group-stage exits.

“I hope the ghosts have died,” Xavi added. “We’ve gone through difficult years in the Champions League recently. This win shows that Barça are still alive.”

PSG looked to have recovered from Raphinha’s opener when Ousmane Dembélé equalised in the 48th minute against his former club. Three minutes later midfielder Vitinha put PSG ahead from Fabián Ruiz‘s pass in a pulsating match where Dembélé also hit the left post moments before Christensen’s winner.

“We are not happy with the defeat,” PSG manager Luis Enrique, who won the treble with Barcelona in 2015, said. “The second leg will be like a final now, it’s our objective. I have no doubt that we can qualify. I congratulate Barcelona for their win and their performance.

“We could have done better and we will have to improve some things for the second leg but I’m still satisfied by what I saw tonight. We controlled well our emotions I thought but the game swung on details. The manager is also responsible for the results. I chose players because I thought they would be best for this game but it didn’t work. We changed our plans at half-time and we scored two goals.”

Luis Enrique refused to comment on Kylian Mbappé‘s performance, as the France captain was shackled by Barcelona’s defence and had little impact on the game.

However, he said that Barça were not necessarily favourites even with a win in hand and the home field advantage.

“We are going to go to Barcelona to fight a war,” he said.

“I never see the opposition as favourites, whoever they are. In top-level competition, that’s how I see it. And I will continue to believe that we will go to Barcelona to win the game.

“I repeat. We could have won this game. [Football] is about small details and let’s hope that the small details go our way in the second leg.”

Information from ESPN’s Julien Laurens, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.