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Home Sport Football European

Nou Camp nightmare will only help us hit the very top, insists Verratti

By Adam McKendry

Paris St Germain midfielder Marco Verratti says the French giants are still reeling from their last hit out in the Champions League ahead of tonight's clash with Celtic at Parkhead.

The last time PSG featured in Europe was at the Nou Camp in March when they took a 4-0 lead to Barcelona, only to somehow lose 6-1 in the dying seconds to be eliminated.

Three goals in the last eight minutes from Barca, including two from new PSG forward Neymar and a 95th-minute winner from Sergi Roberto, crushed Parisian hearts on a famous night in European football.

Italian midfielder Verratti, who played the full 90 minutes that night, says it's a game he'll never forget, but that he and his team-mates have learned from that experience.

"It's a match I'll never forget. I hope it will serve as a lesson for everyone," the 24-year-old said.

"The days following the Barcelona match were almost a nightmare. I was really struggling to understand what had happened to me.

"But from that day on I became more determined to win. Moreover, football, like life, is made of ups and downs.

"And sometimes it takes some disappointments to make you understand and learn.

"Barca deserved to qualify. It was difficult to play, to make passes. They pressed too much in the first half.

"In the second half we managed to play better. But we conceded the third goal and we understood that we had to play.

"We couldn't wait for it to finish like that. Then after Edi Cavani's goal we were calmer. I spoke to the Barca players and they told me it was over.

"I don't find any explanation for conceding three goals in the final minutes. That's football."

Since then, PSG have strengthened their squad, and are ready for another crack at becoming the first French side to win the tournament since Marseille in 1993.

The aforementioned Neymar is the stand-out arrival, with 18-year-old French superstar Kylian Mbappe not far behind, while Dani Alves has also joined the ranks from Juventus.

But, with all three set to play a part in Glasgow tonight, it's the Brazilian that Verratti says is the key addition that could help PSG make that step up to win the Champions League.

"Neymar is a big hit. I did not think he would come," Verratti admitted with a smile.

"I was sceptical, but Dani Alves talked to me about this possibility. It's not easy to leave Barca and people like Messi and Suarez and yet Neymar did it.

"He is a phenomenon who has taken the lead to bring Paris to the top of European football. Now nothing is forbidden and we can win the Champions League.

"We have so many good players but to get to the bottom of all the competitions we will need everyone.

"Then of course you have a guy like (Julian) Draxler who is one of the best I've ever played with, and he could come off the bench.

"There are so many options in attack with players like him."

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