Now we get down to the nitty gritty. This is where things really start to hot up, and nowhere more so will that be the case than at Camp Nou on Tuesday night.
Paris Saint-Germain return to the scene of the worst defeat in their entire history.
Only a win against Barcelona will banish the memories of that astonishing 6-1 loss against the Catalans back in 2017, which saw them wipe out a 4-0 first-leg lead in favour of the Parisiens.On that occasion, Neymar was chief destroyer, firing home a late free-kick, converting a penalty and then providing the assist for Sergi Roberto to apply the coup de grace.
Arguably, it was that performance which tempted PSG to dip in their pockets to the tune of an astonishing €222m to acquire the Brazilian who, it’s believed, was very much looking forward to facing his old team-mates, but who has been ruled out by injury.
Mbappe the dangerman
In Neymar’s absence, it’s clear that the major threat to Barcelona on Tuesday will be Kylian Mbappe.
Barca have to get their strategy spot on if they want to stop a player who is strong in the air, super-quick across the ground – which remains Barca’s Achilles heel in defence – and who knows where the goal is given half a chance.
After having come so close last season, only to lose to Bayern in the final, Mbappe will know that there won’t be too many more chances for this PSG side to do damage in Europe.
Expect Barca’s defence to be under the cosh from his intelligent movement and accuracy for most of the 90 minutes.
Messi to reign supreme?
Though he’s dipped below his normal standards this season, Lionel Messi is still playing well enough to get into just about any club side in Europe.
Into double figures for goals for the 15th season running, he remains the conduit between defence and attack for Barca.
When he plays well the blaugranes are hard to beat, but he’s finding it harder to get the space he needs to work in this season, with teams becoming wise to his movement and passing angles.
Which defence will crack first?
With both attacks possessing more than enough firepower, notwithstanding any injured players being ruled out, the question as to who wins this one probably lies in the fact that whichever defence can perform better on the night will put themselves in the box seat.
Barca ideally need a clean sheet at home, but in order to do that, they’ll need to play more defensively that they’re used to which doesn’t suit them.
To that end, PSG will likely have an advantage heading back to Paris.