[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]A brilliant PSG side stunned Barcelona on Tuesday night, with a near perfect display of football and a clear 4-0 win. The Parc des Princes faithful were on hand to watch one of the most confident performances from their team since the Qatar Group purchase of the side in 2011. Going into the second leg of this Champions League feature, the French side are firm favorites to go through and even make a challenge for the trophy.
Balanced display from PSG
PSG struck early, in the 18th minute when Angel Di Maria brilliantly executed a long range free kick. The offensive midfielder got his brace with a curled shot in the 55th minute, while proficient striker Edinson Cavani and new addition Julian Draxler, also scored.
Statistics also paint a stark picture of the French side’s dominance. Barcelona were, as usual, the team maintaining possession with a 57% percentage. However that had little impact in terms of goal opportunities, with PSG enjoying 10 shots on target, to Barcelona’s 1. The Spanish team pressed more towards the end of the game, even having the ball hit the woodwork, but it was too little, too late.
Everything came together for PSG, with the French team getting the best game out of their offensive players (Di Maria and Cavani, especially) and using their defensive midfielders (Verrati and Rabiot) to counter Barcelona tactics throughout the game. Elsewhere, captain Blaise Matuidi was also impressive, playing behind the striker and completing 98% of his passes.
As for Barcelona, it was difficult to pinpoint a single factor that contributed to the defeat. Lionel Messi had one of his poorest showings in recent years, with reports that the striker may be distracted by a possible move away from Catalonia. Iniesta and Busquets’ usual dazzling display of passing seemed outmatched by the constant PSG pressing. And the goal threat came, rarely, only from Neymar, who ran throughout the game, but saw himself with few opportunities to work with.
PSG has never lost in the final 16 phase of the UCL, but the victory is also a symbol for the side’s intentions to mount a serious challenge for the trophy. It’s been no secret that since the purchase in 2011 by Qatar Group, winning the UCL has been the main team objective. Past performances saw PSG have to bow to the European giants before being able to reach the finals, but with last night’s game things may have changed.
An early exit from the UCL could also prove to be the last death knell for Louis Enrique’s time at Camp Nou. Numerous reports, even before of the game on Tuesday, suggested Barcelona do not intend to extend Enrique’s contract and would be looking for a replacement.