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Enrique wants Paris St Germain to take on Newcastle as if it’s a final

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PSG find themselves in a delicately poised Group F, where all four sides can still progress, and will hope to make use of home advantage in Tuesday’s game in Paris.

Paris Saint-Germain’s Spanish head coach Luis Enrique. Picture: Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT, AFP

Paris St Germain will approach their Champions League game at home to Newcastle United like a final, manager Luis Enrique said on Monday.

PSG find themselves in a delicately poised Group F, where all four sides can still progress, and will hope to make use of home advantage in Tuesday’s game in Paris.

“The Parc des Princes will carry us, I expect a great atmosphere. We really need the fans, we need a warmer and more passionate stadium than normal,” Enrique said.

“We will play this game like a final. At this level, home games are key matches. The public is a special asset for us, we expect incredible support.”

PSG lost 4-1 when they played Newcastle in October, and after the Premier League side’s 4-1 win over Chelsea on Saturday, Enrique is preparing for another tough challenge.

“They’re very strong physically, they’re able to press hard and very high. There’s a lot of intensity.

“If you saw their last game against Chelsea, the physical data is still at that level. We know that will be the case again (on Tuesday), we will have to be ready.”

PSG have won their past six league games to take them top of Ligue 1, but the manager still expects more from his side.

“The team is still not what I want it to be, but we’re in a process of discovery. We can get even more out of our players, and we can go even further,” Enrique said.

“But I like what I see already. There is already a lot of satisfaction but still a lot of room for improvement.”

Just three points separate group leaders Borussia Dortmund from bottom club Newcastle, but PSG can secure progress if they defeat the English side and AC Milan fail to win against Dortmund.

“We’re in a difficult, tight group. Tomorrow the match is decisive since the group can be decided after the fifth match day,” Enrique said.

“But everything could also be decided on the last day, but I know my team is ready for tomorrow and can do great things.”

PSG are second in Group F on six points, one point behind Dortmund and one point ahead of Milan, with Newcastle on four points.

Meanwhile, Barcelona have another chance to secure qualification for the knockout rounds when they host Porto, and Xavi Hernandez’s side need the fans’ support for this vital game, the manager said on Monday.

The Spanish side looked to be easing towards a place in the last 16 after winning their opening three games, but defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk in their previous match leaves progress still in doubt, having failed to emerge from the group stage in the past two seasons.

“It’s a very important, vital game for us. It’s up to us to be first,” said Xavi.

“After two years, it’s a great opportunity (to progress).

“We’re playing at home. We need the fans. Hopefully it’s going to be a magical night.

“It’s essential that the fans are there. The last few years we have suffered. It’s important that they are with the team.”

Barca also failed to win their most recent La Liga game, drawing 1-1 at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, which saw them slip to fourth in the table, four points behind leaders Real Madrid.

“Lately things aren’t going our way, but the Vallecano game was there to be won,” the manager said.

“We created play and in the second half we were more aggressive. We lack continuity in the game, but people are comfortable with the plan. The dressing room is united.”

Barcelona are already without midfielder Gavi after he tore his anterior cruciate ligament on international duty with Spain, and keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen missed Saturday’s game with a back injury, but could return for the Porto tie.“

(Today) Marc will try, let’s see how he is,” Xavi said. “He hasn’t trained. We’ll try to see if he’s 100%.”

Reuters

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