Burnley midfielder Joey Barton has tipped Paris Saint-Germain to beat Chelsea in the return leg of the UEFA Champions League and even make it as far as the semi-final of the competition.
The former Manchester City star has encountered the French Champions first hand during his time on loan at Olympique de Marseille from QPR in the 2012/13 season.
“It was a real Champions League match, with two teams on point tactically and physically, and with very technical players,” said the 33-year-old currently on loan from QPR at Championship club Burnley.
“Both sides could have scored more, but the 2-1 scoreline leaves Chelsea plenty of hope for the return leg. But PSG proved it last season: they can score at Stamford Bridge. That should give them some confidence, but in terms of who will qualify, I don’t see either side as favourites.”
Barton also estimates that Paris Saint-Germain are stronger than they were when he was plying his trade in France’s top flight.
“They have more balance, especially in attack,” he said. “Their play is more fluid and the arrival of (Angel) Di María has made a big difference. These days, they’re strong enough to succeed in Europe.”
“They need to maintain the intensity and the pressure,” Barton offered. “But yes, they have a team that can get results. I think they have the capacity to make it to the semi-finals. Just look at who they had on the bench against Chelsea: (Benjamin) Stambouli, (Edinson) Cavani and (Javier) Pastore.”
However, Barton believes that PSG most important element is captain Thiago Silva – the man Barton took some delight in sledging during his time in Ligue 1.
“It feels like he really runs the show from the backline. He is impressive as a defender, but more than that, he talks a lot and gives instructions when necessary,” said Barton. “His presence is capital.”
Paris Saint-Germain defeated Chelsea 2-1 in the first-leg of the round of 16 clash on Tuesday.