The hard-earned privilege of facing Paris

Posted by Francesc Tomas

It's official: Barcelona will travel to the French capital to face the mega-rich Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League quarterfinals.

To be honest, I am somehow unable to focus on the team Barcelona is facing next as I am still buzzing after witnessing the masterclass at the Camp Nou in midweek. Considering the massive challenge of the second leg against Milan, the fact that we are now talking about the next rival is simply fantastic.

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Honestly, my head is still full of flashes of brilliance, and I just can't seem to focus on the future just yet. The way in which the victory against the Rossoneri was achieved fills me with pride.

Doubters were proven wrong with a lethal performance that impressed football lovers, analysts and even rivals all around the world. Despite their poor form in recent matches and the obvious lack of an inspiring leader on the bench, players stepped up with an spirited display of courage, effort and quality.

Unfortunately, the frantic pace of Barcelona's calendar forces me to look forward to the next round and won't allow any more time to enjoy the moment -- a terrible shame, as the latest amazing comeback is firmly in my Top 10 Blaugrana moments of all-time.

Looking ahead

Let's face it: Previous achievement counts for nothing. The impressive display against the Rossoneri would have been in vain unless the team can produce another splash of magic in the upcoming tie against PSG.

As usual, many have already felt the need to name Barcelona as favourites to progress. A time-wasting exercise, if you ask me. As far as I know, no team has ever won matches before kickoff. Thinking about it, Barcelona would perhaps not even be in this position if M'baye Niang's shot hadn't smashed into the Camp Nou post.

The level of quality at this stage of the biggest competition in European football is such that the difference is made by tiny details like that. Trying to foresee what the future may bring when there are only eight teams left is therefore pointless.

I must admit my first preference at this stage was the prospect of facing Real Madrid but that wasn't to be. I guess Cules and Merengues will have to work their magic in the next round if fans are to be treated to the biggest Clasico of the century in coming rounds.

But let's not get carried away too early about something that may or may not happen in the distant future: The most important match of the season must always be the next one.

For now, all the Blaugranas must worry about is giving Paris all due respect and prepare for the tie as if their lives depended on it.

The prospect of knocking out one of the richest teams in the continent -- a club capable of attracting stars of the calibre of Thiago Silva, Javier Pastore or David Beckham after spending 240 million euros in two seasons -- is incredibly exciting, as is facing former Blaugranas Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Maxwell and Thiago Motta.

The fact no La Liga side has ever been capable to knock PSG out of Europe shows the difficulty of the task ahead. Sure, the French have reached the quarterfinals for the first time in 19 years, but recent improvement must be taken into account.

Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta explained: "PSG have some great players, with plenty of talent. They have experience and know how to deal with games like these. I’m sure they’ll be battling to the end. They’re very competitive. And we’ll also get the chance to meet up with some players we know. We have just gone through an experience in the last round that has taught us to be prudent."

The Champions League returns in all its glory April 2. Four-time champion Barcelona are in a privileged position to continue making history and, having witnessed the greatness of the current golden generation of players for many years, I have little doubt that they will see the upcoming clash against PSG as a unique opportunity to shine, once again.

Until then, the Catalans must ensure they can maintain their current lead in the domestic league by beating Rayo Vallecano and Celta de Vigo so that they can keep the current level of optimism surrounding the club ahead of their trip to glamorous Paris in a fortnight's time.

Exciting times ahead!

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