It's time for Messi and Co to repay Enrique's trust
Barcelona players guilty of failing to reciprocate Enrique's support for them
|BARCELONA||PARIS ST GERMAIN|
- PSG lead 4-0 from first leg
No team have ever overturned a four-goal deficit in the Champions League's knock-out stages.
What other clubs deem to be an impossible task, Barcelona still consider a challenge.
With Luis Enrique's farewell tour now officially underway, Lionel Messi and Co have to step up to the plate against Paris Saint-Germain instead of continuing to hide behind tired excuses.
Enrique has insulated his side from the condemnation that has come their way in a season where the club's stock has fallen at an alarming rate both at home and in Europe, typified by their 4-0 demolition in the first leg at the Parc des Princes just three weeks ago.
His players, however, have been guilty of failing to reciprocate that support to him.
Sergio Busquets claimed that Barca had been both underprepared and overwhelmed in the French capital.
News of his boss' impending departure had remained closely-guarded at that point.
But Les Parisiens were not stronger than their visitors; they simply managed to overpower them.
A role reversal is required in the Nou Camp tomorrow morning (Singapore time).
To do so, Enrique's pledge of "unwavering faith" in the Spanish champions must now be vindicated.
Busquets described a comeback against Unai Emery's side in the return leg as "very difficult".
Yet the midfielder knows from personal experience that the improbable is not necessarily a deterrent for the Catalan giants, especially where the Nou Camp is concerned.
At exactly the same stage of the competition in 2013, Barcelona had to overcome a Round-of-16 tie with AC Milan which had seen them subdued in the opening encounter while their hosts defended deep and won 2-0 through a second-half onslaught.
Roles were reversed when Messi fired La Liga's champions-elect to an early lead in the return leg before striking again before half-time.
Nerves remained frayed until Jordi Alba guaranteed their passage to the quarter-finals in stoppage time to complete a 4-0 rout and a 4-2 aggregate win.
They became the first side to overturn a two-goal first- leg deficit in the Champions League without the assistance of an away goal in a performance which Andoni Zubizarreta, the club's erstwhile sporting director, famously predicted would be remembered "for years to come".
It was a result which managed to stave off talk of an era ending, albeit only for a further six weeks, when Bayern Munich completed a 7-0 aggregate win in the semi-finals.
Four seasons on, history is threatening to repeat itself.
Barcelona were guilty of absentia in Paris, not least in Messi.
His heroics against the same opponents in the 2012/13 campaign ensured they scraped into the semis, but he had also been off-key in that opening encounter at the Parc des Princes three weeks ago.
Disillusion, rather than injury, dominated the Argentinian's latest continental outing.
Enrique has acknowledged that "Messidependencia" is an ongoing concern, with the four-time Ballon d'Or winner plundering a prolific 37 goals from 35 competitive outings this term.
That unhealthy burden of pressure will come to the fore again when PSG step out at the Nou Camp, where form favours its natives in their quest to replicate the miracles of seasons past.
Unbeaten on home soil in 18 games in all competitions this season, their Champions League track record augurs even more promisingly despite the four-goal disadvantage.
Barca last slumped to a home defeat in Europe's premier club competition in a 3-0 semi-final defeat by Bayern Munich four seasons ago.
Of their 19 undefeated outings since then, Enrique has overseen all bar five. His home record is unquestionable with a flawless win ratio.
Their reboot, in La Liga and beyond, under the outgoing Barca coach deserves a flourishing finale.
It is up to Messi and his star-studded cast members to now deliver it.