There is no test like the Champions League.
The pressure is on, and fans around the world are getting ready to find out if Lionel Messi and company are still the giants of world football.
It is an opportunity to prove that they suspect wrong.
The schedule could not have come at a better time.
PSG is without Neymar, and Barcelona looked unsurpassed in the country.
Will Barca be humble or is this just the beginning of an unexpected attempt to become the kings of Europe?
Barca were on both sides of the return to the Champions League.
As fans we live and die for those moments.
One of the main criticisms of Ernest Valverde’s era was the lack of a noticeable tactical vision in knockout games.
It’s hard to fix that. Pep Guardiola, despite all his genius, occasionally analyzed the game plan for these big games in Manchester City and Bayern Munich.
How will Ronald Koeman approach the game?
Barca could play a risk-averse. That would mean deliberately seeking domination over possession. If the game remains with lower points, it is anyone’s game in the return match.
Or, especially seeing the opportunity with Neymar’s absence, Koeman could see this as an opportunity to avenge his side in attack.
We know that PSG will try to take advantage of Kylian Mbappe’s speed.
Barca could counter that by taking advantage of the speed of Ousmane Dembele on the wing and Messi who will stay up ready to rush in the moment.
If they take this route, Frenkie de Jong will have to continue to drive the races in the frame. It would also help Jordi Alba and Sergino Dest to be as aggressive as possible in overlapping.
If they take this route, the danger will be whether Sergio Busquets and the defensive line will be ready to counterattack from the other side.
We know this is an area that desperately needs to be cleaned up.
In the Champions League, a lack of concentration will put an end to your chances as much as anything else.
It is needed in both offensive and defensive areas.
Will Antoine Griezmann break his first chance at home?
Will Barcelona have solid and strong points in defensive sets?
How much risk is this team, given its recent results, willing to take while playing from the back?
In the end, being mentally ready to play has a lot to do with self-confidence and the desire to win.
Barca wins late and overcomes adversity. They are at the peak of self-confidence.
But how much these players want to win will be shown in full. When you are fully focused and committed to the mission, you enter the zone of a true competitor.
Making mistakes becomes less likely. Taking advantage of your opponent’s mistakes on the other hand is where you win the game.
Messi is at his best when the team plays well overall.
Fortunately for Barca, La Pulga has found its touch again in almost all areas of its game. This means that magic is possible at any time.
But there is nothing to count on.
The mere presence of Ousmane Dembele is a factor of fear for PSG. If Barca can establish it early, the game opens.
Having Pedri and Frenkie in advanced and aggressive positions adds another dimension to the Parisians that they have to contend with.
If the ball moves fast, and Barca play unpredictably over, around and through as needed, the talent for the field will take care of the rest.
Whoever it is when a great moment is presented, it must make it important.
Good is waiting for us! Visca Barca.