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PSG hope for miracle against Barcelona

French champions Paris Saint-Germain need something akin to a miracle to overcome Barcelona in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday night. PSG coach Laurent Blanc is not optimistic.

PSG hope for miracle against Barcelona
PSG players listen to coach Laurent Blanc before Tuesday's match against Barcelona. Photo: AFP

Paris Saint-Germain coach Laurent Blanc admitted he is realistic about the size of the task facing his side as they attempt to overturn a 3-1 Champions League quarter-final, first leg deficit away at Barcelona on Tuesday.

The French champions were torn apart by Barca's star front three of Luis Suarez, Neymar and Lionel Messi at the Parc des Princes last week, just as they were when they last visited the Camp Nou in the group stages in December.

And while Blanc is confident PSG can pose the Barca defence problems, he believes stopping the South American trio is an almost impossible task.

"I'm fairly realistic. Yes we believe we can do it, but like you, we know that it is extremely difficult," he said on Monday.

"We can say that we have nothing to lose. I think we will have the opportunity to score, but the big problem is that we can't concede and against Barcelona that is almost impossible.

"We must defend well, we say that every time we play them, but we have conceded in every game because they have incredible offensive players.

"I hope we can show we are better than what we showed in the first leg."

The visitors will at least be boosted by the return of their own top scorer as former Barca striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic returns from suspension.

"He will have a big impact. He is a player I have never doubted," added Blanc.

"He loves these type of matches, so he will help us. It is always better to have very good players and goalscorers, as we saw in the first leg."

Marco Verratti also returns from a ban to take his place in midfield, but Thiago Silva and Thiago Motta both miss out due to injury.

And midfielder Javier Pastore is hoping Ibrahimovic and Verratti's presence can prove the difference from one week to the next.

"It will be a very difficult game, but the only good thing is that we don't have anything to lose. We come into the game with a negative result, but we have added two fundamental players to the team and they will give us a lot.

"We believe because that is our job and football is a game in which you have the possibility to win or lose. For our fans and ourselves we need to play very well and win the game."

However, the Argentine international dismissed French legend Eric Cantona's recent comments that he and not his compatriot Messi, who scored his 400th Barcelona goal at the weekend, is the best player in the world.

"Everyone has their opinion and I thank him publicly for what he said, but I don't believe the same.

"I think he likes good football and not just goals, but the stats of Messi and (Cristiano) Ronaldo are incredible, unattainable numbers."

Barcelona striker Luis Suarez insists his side can't relax when they host Paris Saint-Germain in the second-leg of their Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday despite holding a commanding 3-1 lead in the tie.

Suarez was the orchestrator of the French champions' downfall in the first-leg at the Parc des Princes with two sensational individual goals to put Barca on the brink of a seventh semi-final in eight seasons.

However, the Uruguayan demanded the same level of intensity and concentration from his side to ensure PSG are given no encouragement at the Camp Nou.

"Nothing is done. We are aware that they have great players and we need to start with the same intensity that we did last week," he said on Monday.

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FOOTBALL

Liverpool fan to Madrid taxi driver: ‘You’ve restored my faith in humanity’

A Liverpool fan who lost his phone in the back of a cab after spending the weekend in Madrid for the Champions League Final didn’t hold out much hope for its return.

Liverpool fan to Madrid taxi driver: ‘You’ve restored my faith in humanity’
Paul Hands with his fiancée Charlotte in Madrid for the Champions League final. Photo: P Hands

Message boards and whatsapp groups were full of anecdotes about fans having their phones  snatched and wallets nicked by pickpockets taking advantage of the crowds that flocked to the city for the final earlier this month.

So Paul Hands, 44 a recently retired officer from the British Army, felt he only had himself to blame when he leapt out of a taxi at the airport leaving his phone and bank cards behind on the seat.

“When we got to the airport we had to quickly pay and jump out and it was then that I dropped my phone (the phone has a wallet holder so my bank cards were also in it),” he explained to The Local by telephone  from his home in Liverpool.

 “I didn’t realise I’d dropped it until we was through security and we didn’t have a clue what the taxi company was as we just flagged him down on the street,” he said.

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It wasn’t the loss of the phone, or the bank cards that most upset him, but rather the loss of all the photographs Paul and his fiancée, Charlotte, had taken during their stay in Madrid.

“We were both gutted as the phone had all our photographs from recent trips and all our info about our wedding – we get married in Liverpool in 2 Months time – I honestly thought we’d lost all the photos and phone as we hadn’t had a chance to back the photos up,” he said.

But just on the off chance, after a long journey home, flying via Porto, he logged onto the “find my phone app” on ipad and sent a message asking that whoever had his phone please get in contact..

To his immense surprise, he received a message back from the taxi driver, whose name was Juan,, and through using a translation app, the pair were able to communicate.

“The taxi driver sent us a message saying he was so glad we’d sent a message to the phone as he was worried how he could get it back to us.

 “We thanked him (we were using the English/Spanish translator as he didn’t speak English and we don’t speak Spanish!). The phone arrived at my home address some 5 days later. All in perfect condition and we were able to recover our photos.”


Paul and Charlotte recovered all the photos of their memorable trip. Photo credit: P Hands.

What’s more, the driver refused to accept a money transfer to pay for the postal costs, despite repeated attempts to reimburse him – instead, Paul and Charlotte plan to send him a gift.

“The actions of this taxi driver made the whole trip amazing. As well as our team winning the European Cup we got to meet this man that was so honest and really did more than we’d expect. Especially as the cost of the taxi  ride was less than the cost of the postage!”

“He’s a great ambassador for Madrid and a true gentleman,” the fan added.

Hands shared his story on Facebook forums for Liverpool fans and expats in Madrid where some told him how lucky he was, and others also shared their stories of kind-hearted Madrileños.

“It's so nice to hear a good story for a change”, wrote one.  “Thank you for restoring my faith in the human race.”

“This in my experience is Madrileños. More than one thank you they get bored with and just want you to shut up!” wrote another.

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