UEFA Women's Champions League

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Paredes: 'A tough match'

Before facing Barcelona in the return leg of their UEFA Women's Champions League semi-final - at the Mini Estadi on Saturday - Paris Saint-Germain's Spanish defender Irene Paredes spoke about her memories of playing the Catalan side and looked ahead to this crunch double-header!

Irene, you faced this Barcelona side several times, when you played for Athletic Bilbao. What impression did you get?
"It was generally the most anticipated fixture. I have a lot of good memories of it. For us, the players, it was the most important match of the season, the one that we most wanted to play in irrespective of the result"

So you won't be on unfamiliar ground when you take the pitch at the Mini Estadi…
"No, that's true, as I played there several times, and I often felt very good playing on that pitch. The stadium is the right size for women's football matches. The stands are often full and the atmosphere is good. For us, the most important thing is still the state of the pitch."

Do you still keep an eye on what's going on in the Spanish league?
"I watch matches when I can. In Spain, most teams are much weaker than Barcelona, so the results aren’t very interesting… Still, Barça have an excellent team - they have eight or nine players in the Spain team. So it will be a tough match."

The return leg against FC Barcelona will be played at the Parc des Princes. What does that mean to you?
"Everyone dreams of playing in a stadium like this one! In the return leg of the quarters, against Bayern (4-0), the atmosphere was magnificent. I hope the fans will show up in even greater numbers for the return leg against Barcelona. Their encouragement is very important to us and can help us to clinch a good result. But right now, even though we can’t wait for that occasion, we're trying to stay focused on the first leg, in Catalonia."

What do you remember of your big Parc des Princes debut, against the German side?
"Playing in a stadium like that against a team of that calibre was certainly one of the best moments in my career. It's the first time I've played in the Champions League, so reaching the semis is an incredible thing for me. I'm trying to make the most of each moment."

The fans have played a key role in your European run this season…
"Yes, it's true that they are always behind us, win or lose, and little by little, as we have progressed in the competition, we have seen them show up in increasingly large number. Right now, I have only one wish: that we continue to play well so we can attract more and more people to our matches."

With three goals to your name, you're the club's second-top scorer in Europe this season. That's not bad for a defence-minded player…
"Yes, I know [laughs]. I don’t score that frequently, but somehow I have been lucky enough to score three goals. And I hope I can score some more and keep helping the team."

LP/TA