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Needing a big win, Barcelona challenges PSG for 1st place in Group F of Champions League

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BARCELONA, Spain — First place is up for grabs in Group F of the Champions League on Wednesday, and it'll go to either Barcelona or Paris-Saint Germain.

Although the French champions beat Barcelona 3-2 in Paris in September, both teams have already qualified for the second round. Barcelona, a four-time European champion, hasn't failed to finish at the top of its group since 2006-07.

"The game against PSG is perfect for us," Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said. "It gives us the opportunity to go through as winners of the group and to beat the only team that has beaten us so far (in the Champions League)."

Also in Group F, Ajax hosts Cypriot side APOEL needing a draw to finish third and qualify for the Europa League.

Here are some more things to know about Wednesday's matches:


THREE TIMES THREE

Shattering record after record, Lionel Messi has also scored hat tricks in three of his last four matches.

The first against Sevilla gave Messi the Spanish league's all-time scoring record. He followed that with another trio of goals at APOEL to become the top scorer in the history of the Champions League.

And the Argentine heads into the match against PSG after scoring three against crosstown rival Espanyol in a 5-1 rout on Sunday, taking him past the 400-goal mark for Barcelona.

He now has 74 goals in the Champions League, 256 in the Spanish league and 402 overall for Barcelona, all of which are records.

PHOTO: FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi, from Argentina, holds the ball after scoring a hat-trick in the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Espanyol at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
FC Barcelona's Lionel Messi, from Argentina, holds the ball after scoring a hat-trick in the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Espanyol at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Dec. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

Messi will be missing his partner on the right flank, back Dani Alves, who is suspended for this game.


UNBEATEN PSG

After Chelsea lost last weekend in England, PSG is the only unbeaten side in Europe's biggest leagues.

PSG hasn't played sparkling football, but the individual qualities of its creative players have made up for its collective inadequacies so far.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice in a 2-1 comeback over Nantes on Saturday, and Edinson Cavani has netted eight goals in his last 10 matches.

"PSG is the last unbeaten team and it's a pleasure," PSG coach Laurent Blanc said. "You need to wait until the end to assess a season, but I'm sure there will be better days. I'm optimistic we will continue to take points, but with style."


FIGHT FOR THIRD

APOEL has scored only once so far in group play and sits in last place.

That single goal gave the Mediterranean team a draw at home against Ajax, and now it needs to better that result to claim a ticket to the Europa League.

Ajax will be missing Iceland striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson, out with torn left ankle ligaments. Poland forward Arek Milik will likely lead the attack.

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