Xavi backs PSG to knock Real Madrid out of the Champions League

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OneFootball

Dan Burke

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He might struggle to find too many people who will agree with him, but Barcelona legend Xavi believes Paris Saint-Germain can still come back and eliminate Real Madrid from the Champions League in just over a fortnight.

PSG were beaten 3-1 at the Bernabéu in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie last week, leaving the Ligue 1 leaders with a minor mountain to climb when the two sides meet in the return leg at the Parc des Princes on 6 March.

But Xavi feels with a little bit of luck, Unai Emery’s men can still pull off an unlikely turn-around and make it to the next stage.

“Real got a bit lucky in the first leg,” the 38-year-old told French outlet So Foot.

“However, they made their own luck. So, I say that if PSG can show character in the second leg, they can do it.

“A two-goal deficit is not insurmountable, and a lot of things can happen over 90 minutes. As far as I am concerned, PSG have the mentality to succeed and turn the tide.

“Dani [Alves], [Marco] Verratti, [Ángel] Di María… I mean, come on, Di María did not get to play a single minute!

“It is inexplicable. Real did not really play, yet they won. Once again, PSG needed to kill the match when they had the chance.

“It was not a game that you could analyse in just one go. There were different phases. In the second half, there was a period where PSG were clearly in the ascendency. During these moments, you could feel that Real were ready to crack under PSG’s pressure.

“It was at this time that PSG needed to get their second goal. They did not and consequently, they conceded two. What PSG experienced, I have also gone through with Barça.”

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After taking a first-half lead through Adrien Rabiot and going on to lose the game, many suggested PSG’s players are still haunted by Barcelona’s famous comeback against them at this stage of the competition last season.

However Xavi, who is still playing for Al Sadd in the Qatar Stars League, doesn’t believe the ‘Remontada’ had anything to do with last week’s match.

“I do not think that the PSG players thought back to the 6-1,” he said.

“I thought that they played with a lot of personality.

“Did PSG play badly? No. Were Real awful? Not really. The difference between the two is that Real were able to win, even when they were not at their very best.”

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Les Parisiens boss Emery is a man suddenly under pressure at the moment and was even booed by some of the club’s supporters prior to the weekend’s 5-2 victory over Strasbourg, but Xavi feels this is nothing out of the ordinary.

“When you lose 3-1, criticism is normal,” he said.

“If [Zinedine] Zidane loses by the same score, in the same match, he would also get ripped apart.

“It is always like this in football – when you win, you are great.”