We’re the un­der­dogs

CHAM­PI­ONS LEAGUE PREVIEW

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The last time Arse­nal vis­ited Paris-Saint Ger­main back in 1994 they se­cured a 1-0 win on the way to lift­ing the Euro­pean Cup Win­ner’s Cup.

This time around even the Arse­nal play­ers be­lieve they en­ter the con­test as un­der­dogs thanks to PSG’s im­pres­sive ef­forts in the com­pe­ti­tion in re­cent years.

While Arse­nal have failed to win a league ti­tle since 2004 and have not made it past the Cham­pi­ons League round of 16 in seven years, the Parisians have won four straight Ligue 1 crowns and made the quar­ter-fi­nals four times in suc­ces­sion in Europe’s elite com­pe­ti­tion.

A fact that has led Gun­ners striker Olivier Giroud to state that his side will face an up­hill bat­tle when they visit the Parc de Princes tonight.

Af­ter se­cur­ing a late 2-1 vic­tory over Southamp­ton, he said: “We knew this vic­tory would re­quire char­ac­ter even if ev­ery­thing was not easy.

“The Cham­pi­ons League is a dif­fer­ent com­pe­ti­tion.

“Paris will re­group [from Fri­day’s 1-1 draw with Sain­tE­ti­enne] and are the favourites and leader of this group. It is up to us to put doubt into them.” PSG have un­der­gone a change over the sum­mer, with man­ager Lau­rent Blanc re­placed by Unai Emery, while star striker Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic and cen­tral de­fender David Luiz have de­parted. But Brazil­ian winger Lu­cas Moura (in­set) be­lieves PSG have the qual­ity to win the Cham­pi­ons League this sea­son. “I think we should do things a lit­tle dif­fer­ently this sea­son,” he said. “We have the ca­pac­ity and qual­ity to get through – that’s our goal, our dream. “We must progress dur­ing the sea­son with the cham­pi­onship to get there, but I think we can reach fur­ther and why not win the Cham­pi­ons League.”

PEP EX­PECTS TOUGH TEST AGAINST GLADBACH

Manch­ester City may have made a per­fect start to the sea­son, but man­ager Pep Guardi­ola ex­pects a dif­fi­cult game at the Eti­had tonight. The Spa­niard knows the Ger­man league well from his time at Bay­ern Mu­nich and ex­pects Borus­sia Monchenglad­bach to pose a se­ri­ous threat to his side.

“I’m wor­ried – I know them well,” he said. “The Cham­pi­ons League starts in the first round and not in the knock­out stages. You can­not make mis­takes. If you re­lax in the first two games, you are out.”

De­spite City win­ning all six games so far un­der Guardi­ola, the former Barcelona and Bay­ern boss does not be­lieve his team are yet up to the high stan­dards he de­mands.

“Un­til now, in the Premier League it has been okay – but to com­pete against the best clubs in Europe, in this mo­ment with the way we are play­ing, we are not able to,” he said af­ter the win over Manch­ester United.

City will be boosted by the re­turn of striker Ser­gio Aguero – whose ban only ap­plies in English foot­ball – but they are likely to be without Vin­cent Kom­pany and Ilkay Gun­do­gan.

Mean­while, Monchenglad­bach come into the game on the back on a 3-1 de­feat to Freiburg, but Brazil­ian mid­fielder Raf­fael does not be­lieve the loss will play on their minds.

“We aren’t afraid of any team,” he said.

INI­ESTA WARN­ING FOR CELTIC

An­dres Ini­esta be­lieves Barcelona will re­bound from their shock loss to Alaves and has warned Celtic not to be fooled by the de­feat.

While Celtic romped past Rangers at the week­end, Barca suf­fered a sur­prise 2-1 loss to newly-pro­moted Alaves.

But Ini­esta does not be­lieve that Celtic should be en­cour­aged by the re­sult and ex­pects his side to re­spond pos­i­tively at the Nou Camp.

“Against Celtic ev­ery­thing will be dif­fer­ent. This loss won’t af­fect us,” he said. “We must have pa­tience. We have cer­tainly had a bad per­for­mance but need to an­a­lyse the cause and cor­rect the er­rors we made.

“We are early in the sea­son and there is plenty of room ahead to im­prove.

“We strug­gled and couldn’t break down the Alaves de­fence. But we’ve paid for it and we have to make sure things are bet­ter for Celtic.”

The Span­ish giants are likely to re­call Ini­esta, Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi to the start­ing line-up, with the trio all start­ing on the bench against Alaves.

Celtic, mean­while, have de­clared cap­tain Scott Brown fit for the cru­cial tie.

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