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UEFA Champions League, Barcelona vs. Paris Saint-Germain: Opposite Philosophies

The match up between PSG and FC Barcelona in the last eight of the Champions League presents two extremes in terms of team-building. On the one hand, PSG have made waves building the team through big-name transfers. On the other, Barca have relied on its youth system to develop stars.

Many of Barcelona's stars slept in La Masia bunk beds such as these.
Many of Barcelona's stars slept in La Masia bunk beds such as these.
Jasper Juinen

Barcelona head into Paris with a starting lineup that will likely feature Victor Valdes, Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi, and possibly Cristian Tello. Such a lineup would place eight players who at one point or another were part of Barca's youth academy, La Masia.

In the other corner, Paris Saint-Germain lay dormant on a continental scale until the Qatar Investment Authority poured millions of dollars into new signings. Many sources, including our match preview, are projecting a lineup of Salvatore Sirigu; Cristophe Jallet, Thiago Silva, Alex, Maxwell; Blaise Matuidi, Marco Verratti; Lucas Moura, Javier Pastore, Ezequiel Lavezzi; and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

None of those players came from PSG's youth ranks and instead the French club had to shell out about 210 million euro to acquire their services.

Only two of these players are products of any French academy at all, Jallet and Matuidi. In fact, Jallet is the longest-serving PSG squad member in that XI, having joined in the olden days of 2009.

By 2009, Xavi had spent 18 years at some level of the FC Barcelona squad.

It's true that Barca sometimes splash the money - most notoriously in signing PSG's own Ibrahimovic from Internazionale. And it's true that PSG youth product Mamadou Sakho has been an important part of the team's defensive rotation. But these are the exceptions.

The match will highlight other key organizational differences. While Qatari money has found its way to Barca's purse via shirt sponsorship, the Blaugrana are still owned by the fans. Meanwhile, the Qatar Investment Authority owns PSG completely.

While Barcelona are one of the most respected franchises on a worldwide level and on a historical basis, Paris Saint-Germain were not even founded until 1970. They have always felt a bit unfashionable for a city as obsessed with fashion as Paris.

The Parisians have won Ligue 1 twice and made a few blips on the international scene, securing a Cup Winners' Cup in 1996 and an Intertoto Cup in 2001.

But PSG's relatively modest support and limited appeal may be a thing of the past. The QIA have brought the club talent by the ritzy champagne glassful.

It's fair to say that PSG have never boasted a squad as impressive as this, with the signings of known stars such as Ibrahimovic, Lavezzi, Pastore, Thiago Silva, and now even David Beckham.

Barca, meanwhile, have a storied trophy cabinet including four Champions League / European Cup triumphs, among other notable successes. But none of that will matter when the ball starts rolling in the Parc des Princes.

So what team-building strategy will win in the first leg of the Champions League: Barca's tendency to promote from within or PSG's policy of hiring from outside?

Depending on the victor, there may be a broader message sent out about the state of world football.

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