Barcelona gamble on Pique start against PSG


Barcelona (AFP) – Gerard Pique was picked to start his first game in almost three months for Barcelona against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday.

Centre-back Pique has been out since November with a knee ligament injury but Barca coach Ronald Koeman decided to gamble on the 34-year-old, who returned to training this week ahead of the first leg.

Lionel Messi also started in a front three alongside Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele, with the in-form Frenkie de Jong back in midfield after filling in as a centre back in recent weeks.

PSG were boosted by the return of Marco Verratti, who was passed fit to start despite missing last weekend’s win over Nice with a hip problem.

Neymar and Angel Di Maria were both ruled out injured for Mauricio Pochettino’s side, meaning Moise Kean joined Verratti and Kylian Mbappe behind Mauro Icardi at Camp Nou.

Barcelona (4-3-3)

Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Sergino Dest, Gerard Pique, Clement Lenglet, Jordi Alba; Sergio Busquets, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri; Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele

Coach: Ronald Koeman (NED)

Paris Saint-Germain (4-2-3-1)

Keylor Navas, Alessandro Florenzi, Marquinhos, Presnel Kimpembe, Layvin Kurzawa; Idrissa Gueye, Leandro Paredes; Moise Kean, Marco Verratti, Kylian Mbappe; Mauro Icardi

Coach: Mauricio Pochettino (ARG)

Referee: Bjorn Kuipers (NED)

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