PSG tore Barcelona apart as they all but signed, sealed and delivered their place in the Champions League quarter-finals. The French team left the Nou Camp as four-one victors, and Kylian Mbappe would leave with a special souvenir…The match ball.
PSG would go behind to a Lionel Messi penalty, but despite this remained the dominant side. Barcelona’s lead would last just five minutes, and once it was gone there was no getting it back. Three goals from Kylian Mbappe and one from Moise Kean saw PSG leave as deserved winners.
Kylian Mbappe is truly some player. The World Cup winner was described by Champions League-winning player Owen Hargreaves as “If he’s the future, then the future is now”, and there is simply no arguing with him.
Every time the ball fell to Mbappe’s feet it felt destined for greatness, and often that was exactly what was delivered. Leaving the Nou Camp with three goals, he was denied a couple of assists and a fourth goal through Ter Stegen’s heroics and a poor Icardi shot.
His goals when they did come, however, were truly elite in their quality. His first, which was the equalizer, was a display of fancy footwork and fantastic finishing.
That would be the precedent for his following two goals. His second a first-time effort after a panicked Pique clearance fell to the Frenchman. Picking out the corner Mbappe doubled the Parisians lead.
A Moise Kean header hit the back of the net not long after, whilst Mbappe would complete his hat trick as the game drew to its close. Arguably the pick of the bunch, it was a sublime first-time finish that rounded off an excellent counter-attack.
Mbappe was the deserved man of the match, and if his performances keep up, then it will only be a matter of time before last season’s Champions League contenders, become Champions League conquerors.
Is it bye-bye Barca?
Barcelona to their credit were a threat throughout the first-half. Whilst their goal was nothing more than an admittedly excellent penalty from Lionel Messi, they had their fair share of chances. But those chances only really came in the first half, and as the game went on it became more and more clear the Barcelona of old is dead.
The Catalan side lacked any real ambition for much of the game, and whilst PSG were incredible, Barcelona’s poor showing made them look even better. Too many of the goals conceded would come from simple mistakes, and players switching off.
This year will mark six years since Barcelona’s last Champions League final, and with every game, it feels this wait won’t be ending anytime soon.
Barcelona were out-fought and out-thought at every turn. And with miracle Messi getting older and seemingly ready to depart, these next few years could make seriously rough viewing for Barcelona fans.
The signings of recent years have not delivered. Coutinho, Dembele and possibly the nearly twenty-nine-year-old Griezmann have faltered. So where do you turn? Back to the originals, but with Suarez sold. Busquets, Alba, Pique and Messi’s time all but up, the hourglass of Barcelona’s time at the top is unquestionably down to its last grains of sand.
The reverse fixture in the Champions League in Paris will be on the 10th of March. They say lightning never strikes twice, but every Barca fan worldwide will be praying for a miracle against PSG like their dramatic comeback in the 16/17 season. But until then both sides have title challenges on their hands.
PSG sit in second place in Ligue 1, one point behind league leaders Lille, and have a tough home fixture against AS Monaco this coming Sunday.
Barcelona, on the other hand, will look to recover from this heavy defeat with a relatively easy fixture against minnows Cadiz. This will be a must-win game, as Barcelona look to close the eight-point gap on La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.