Paris Saint-Germain are looking to end a 25-year wait to reach the Champions League semi-finals when they face a spirited Atalanta side in Lisbon on Wednesday night (20:00 kick-off).
The reigning French champions have flattered to deceive in European competition it recent years, finding themselves on the wrong end of stunning comebacks, which ultimately cost a few managers their respective jobs.
Current incumbent Thomas Tuchel looked to be on the chopping block after Manchester United eliminated them last season, but the powers that be resisted that urge, and by promoting a long-term vision their dreams could be realised this month.
But they must get past this season’s unlikely quarter-finalists. Not many fancied Italian upstarts Atalanta being two wins away from reaching the final, but here we are. Gian Piero Gasperini’s men — who bagged 98 goals across their 2019/20 Serie A campaign — are here on merit and PSG would be foolish to take them lightly.
Atalanta & PSG’s previous line-ups:
- Atalanta (vs Inter Milan): Gollini; Tolói, Caldara, Djimsiti; Castagne, Freuler, De Roon, Gosens; Pasalic, Papu Gómez; Zapata.
- PSG (vs Lyon): Navas; Kurzawa*, Silva, Kimpembe, Bakker; Marquinhos, Gueye, Verratti*; Di María*, Icardi, Neymar.
Gian Piero Gasperini has no fresh injury worries ahead of their quarter-final showdown. PSG, meanwhile, are stretched with Ángel Di María suspended while Marco Verratti and Layvin Kurzawa are injured. Kylian Mbappé is a doubt after sustaining an ankle injury last month with some reports suggesting he could make an unlikely comeback.
Players to watch:
- Atalanta: This is uncharted territory for Atalanta who have now established themselves as a top-four club in Serie A, and following Juventus’ surprise elimination at the hands of Lyon, there’s a sense of salvaging Italian pride on Wednesday evening. Gian Piero Gasperini’s men will continue to relish their underdog status, knowing very well the pressure is on mega rich PSG, and if they can keep the ball moving through playmaker Alejandro Gómez there’s a strong chance of causing an upset. In his eight previous appearances this season Gómez has created no fewer than 13 chances, more than anyone wearing an Atalanta jersey, whilst averaging 37.55 successful passes per game.
- PSG: It goes without saying Neymar joined Paris Saint-Germain for one reason and that is bringing the Champions League to France’s capital for the very first time. Since becoming part of the Parisian furniture he’s been nothing short of prolific, having bagged 70 goals across 82 outings, with his Champions League tally standing at 14 strikes in 17 appearances. However, this game will be Neymar’s quarter-final debut for PSG, and given question marks surrounding Mbappé’s involvement all eyes will be on world football’s most expensive player to produce a display worthy of his talents.