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Mar 15, 2013

Ancelotti: Barca favourites for CL tie

Carlo Ancelotti has admitted Barcelona start as favourites against his Paris Saint-Germain side after Friday's Champions League quarter-final draw.

• Champions League draw
• Delaney: Quarter-finals wide open
• Johnson: PSG get the desired draw
• Tomas: Barca's hard-earned privilege

The PSG players gathered with president Nasser Al-Khelaifi to watch the draw from UEFA headquarters, and saw their club - in the last eight for the first time since 1995 - paired with Lionel Messi and co.

Although Barcelona represent a daunting prospect, Ancelotti is looking forward to the challenge.

"It's magnificent. I'm really happy to be playing Barcelona. We know that it'll be difficult as Real Madrid and Barcelona are the best teams, those with the best chance of winning this cup. But it's a good test for us," the Italian, whose side came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Tito Vilanova's men in a friendly in August, told beIN Sport. "We already played them in pre-season. It was a good test for us, but it'll be a different feeling, a different atmosphere. Of course, Barcelona have more chance of winning."

Former Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will miss the first leg in the French capital on April 2 through suspension, but will be available for the return leg in the Nou Camp eight days later.

Ancelotti added that the European pedigree of players like Ibrahimovic and David Beckham, who won the 1999 Champions League with Manchester United in the Catalan capital, would prove invaluable.

"Barcelona have experience and quality. But we will have some say in it, and will try our luck," he said. "We'll have to give everything over 90 minutes, give our very best. We can't worry about having the first game at home, we have to be focused. We'll need to have as much energy as possible, with all our players and their experience. Beckham's a player with a lot of experience. It'll be a difficult match but an exciting one. Winning against Barca would be exciting for everyone."

While the Spanish side will start as favourites to progress into the semi-finals of the competition, Barcelona sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta says he is expecting a close tie and is happy to have the second leg at home on April 10.

"PSG have very good players, with a lot of talent," Zubizarreta said. "They are a team with experience, who know how to play these sort of games. I am sure they will be in the tie until the end. They are very competitive. We should see playing the second leg at home, with our fans, as a positive."

Barcelona full-back Jordi Alba also believes PSG represent tough opposition, but he does admit to being happy with the draw.

"It is clear they are a difficult opponent but it seems good to me. We will try to win and make the semis. We did not have a preference," he said. "Paris Saint-Germain is a very complete team - defensively strong, and players up front with a lot of quality. We will have to learn from the last round [after losing 2-0 away in the first leg against AC Milan]. We must correct those errors. They have very good players - Thiago Silva, Lucas Moura, Lavezzi, Ibrahimovic, and now Beckham."

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