By Richard Martin
BARCELONA (Reuters) – Barcelona first struggled to come to terms with their shock 4-0 defeat to Paris St Germain in the Champions League last 16 first leg but have sparkled in their last two games and are daring to believe they can defy history by reaching the quarter-finals.
After scraping 2-1 wins over Leganes and Atletico Madrid in the immediate aftermath of their humbling in Paris, the five-times European Cup winners have doled out a 6-1 thrashing to Sporting Gijon and a 5-0 hammering to Celta Vigo.
Although no side has ever managed to claw back a four-goal deficit in the second leg of a Champions League tie, the form of Neymar and Lionel Messi has convinced some Barcelona fans that history could be made at Camp Nou on Wednesday.
Neymar and Messi both starred in an awesome attacking display against Celta on Saturday and after Messi struck his second goal, Barca’s fifth, supporters began chanting “Yes we can!”.
Coach Luis Enrique, who announced last week he will leave the club at the end of the season, said it was not just fans who believed Barca were capable of what to date has proved an impossible job.
“I have unbreakable faith we can win the tie,” the coach told reporters.
“We’re going to risk everything, we want to create an atmosphere in which the fans will help us even more than they normally do.
“I think we’ve hit top form before a really difficult game but we’re going to have a chance to go through. It looks like a lost cause but if we do things well who knows what could happen? We’ll keep trying until the last minute.”
The coach is known for his expressions of unabashed confidence to the press but he did admit the drubbing at the Parc des Princes had kept him preoccupied over the last fortnight.
“I’ve naturally been thinking about it for a long time,” he said.
“It wasn’t normal they beat us so easily but our objective is to show that we’re the best team and can turn it around in 90 minutes.”
PSG have won three and drawn once since the first leg but could only scrape a 1-0 win over struggling Nancy on Saturday, which kept them second in Ligue 1 behind Monaco.
Midfielder Blaise Mathuidi said the French champions were wary of the threat Barca could pose, despite their significant advantage going into the match.
“We believe in ourselves but we will also respect this team because we know they’re capable of great things,” the France international told reporters.
“The first few minutes will be important because they’ll put us under pressure looking for an early goal. We must be strong mentally. We will experience some difficult moments, so we must prepare for that.”
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)