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Champions League: Barcelona Should Still be Wary of PSG, Even Without Zlatan and Co.

It's easy for fans to be bullish about Barcelona's chances with PSG missing so many key players in the first leg due to injuries and suspensions. But PSG have lots of depth and are playing at home.

Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Serge Aurier and Marco Verratti are all suspended for Paris Saint-Germain as they clash with FC Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League tie.

Not only that, but Thiago Motta is surely out with an injury, while David Luiz is in doubt but included in the squad. Lucas Moura is still recovering from an injury and not fit for the full '90.

PSG is weakened, for sure.

Ibra might be their best player and the rest are at least important pieces to the squad. Barcelona, meanwhile, are really only missing the suspended Dani Alves. Thomas Vermaelen is still injured, but he's been like that all season.

Still, it would be a folly to think Barça's got this covered easily. Of course the team is filled with firepower and boasts the world's best, Lionel Messi. And of course PSG will miss their stars. But the French club has amazing depth and will be a tough proposition at home, especially with the Blaugrana's fixture list congested.

For Luiz, PSG manager Laurent Blanc can shift Marquinhos from right-back to his natural position in the heart of defense. Marquinhos is considered one of the best defenders at his age level, and one Barcelona desperately have tried to acquire. Without Aurier, the reliable Gregory Van der Wiel will step up. He's a regular part of the starting XI and has made as many league appearances as Thiago Silva.

Edinson Cavani will also shift from a wide berth to a more natural central zone, this time to deputize for Ibra. Cavani is a prolific scorer and a physical challenge for any team.

Without Lucas Moura starting and with Cavani in the center, Javier Pastore and Ezequiel Lavezzi will be on the wings. Pastore keeps growing in influence and already hurt Barcelona, nearly knocking them out the last time they met in the knockout rounds with a goal. He's not as comfortable on the wing but he's still class.

Lavezzi is a frustrating figure because he has loads of energy and talent but his end product is inconsistent. Still, he's one to watch out for.

Yohan Cabaye comes into midfield. He was known to boss Premier League midfields in his time at Newcastle before his big money move to Paris, though perhaps he's lost a bit of momentum not starting every game. Still, he's a regular part of PSG's rotation and should be fresh, as well.

Youngster Adrien Rabiot will also have to come in, and while he's the least experienced of the bunch, he's hardly a rookie or a liability. Rabiot's made 24 appearances for PSG this season and has represented France at every youth level.

Even with these suspensions, PSG's depth makes it so they're still a tough opponent. Given that Barcelona are the away team, any win or even a high-scoring draw must still be taken as a positive step.

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