In arguably the most exciting game of the Champions League Round of 16 stages, Barcelona takes on last season’s finalists Paris Saint-Germain in a salivating knockout clash. Leo Messi couldn’t save his side, as the Blaugrana went down to a damning 1-4 loss after a special performance from Kylian Mbappe. Barca drew first blood and took the lead in the 27th thanks to a Leo Messi penalty, completely against the run of play.
But Mbappe snatched the equalizer 5 minutes later for PSG after finishing a brilliant team move with a blasting finish from close range. After some thrilling end-to-end action between the two teams, Mbappe put his side into the lead by completing his brace in the 65th minute.
Things went from bad to worse for Barca as Moise Kean scored from a set-piece in the 70th to make it 1-3! Mbappe then completed his hattrick in style by finishing off a brilliant counter-attack in emphatic fashion in the 85th to cap off a crushing performance. It was a Kylian Mbappe show that blew away Barca, whose poor defensive work & overly protective style blew up on their faces.
Barcelona go into the second leg now having to need 4 goals themselves to win it. The last time they conceded 4 to PSG in a UCL knockout game, they also pulled off a remarkable comeback in the second leg to knock them out in the 2016/17 season. Can they pull off the impossible this time? Going by today’s performance, that’s unlikely.
Barcelona Player Ratings vs PSG
Ronald Koeman (4.0) –
Koeman took a major risk to play an unfit Gerard Pique and a worn-out Sergio Busquets, who clearly isn’t cut out for these kind of games anymore. Ultimately, his team selection worked to PSG’s favour as they punished Barca’s vulnerabilities.
Koeman’s decision to overly protect his backline resulted in his attack suffering and his defensive shape was poor, with PSG repeatedly beating their offside trap with moves through the wings. His substitutions were too late and did little effect. Wasn’t helped by individual mistakes too but his pragmatic attitude today is also a big reason behind this damning loss.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen (6.0) –
Ter Stegen could do nothing to deny Mbappe’s rocket but pulls off a brilliant save from Kurzawa’s attempt in the 35th. Then denies Kean with a smart save in the 38th. Then makes another terrific save to keep out Kean’s deflected attempt with a strong one-handed stop in the 50th. Very unlucky to concede 3 more after his brilliant saves, but nothing he could’ve done to stop either goal on the day.
Sergino Dest (4.5) –
The USA international faces a daunting challenge against the menacing Mbappe. Caught slightly out of position in PSG’s equalizer. Then played on Florenzio and lost track of Mbappe leading to his second. Looked nervous against the Frenchman’s pace and lacked any threat in the attack. Taken off after PSG’s third.
Gerard Pique (4.0) –
After having played his last game in November, Pique returns from a nasty injury when Barca needs them the most. Didn’t really make any damning errors like his partner, but didn’t look up to the race against the pace of PSG. Didn’t really do his best to keep Icardi or Mbappe quiet either.
Clement Lenglet (3.0) –
Lenglet was absolutely bamboozled by Mbappe for his strike, with the Frenchman going past him too easily to score from yards out. Again caught napping for Kean’s strike, allowing him too much freedom to snap in his header into the goal. Along with his poor mistakes, Lenglet never looked comfortable defending against PSG’s pace and was caught napping multiple times.
Jordi Alba (4.5) –
Alba is making some really promising forward runs, but missed his clinical delivery in the first half. Lost track of Florenzi and allowed him to burst into the area too easily to force Mbappe’s second. His attacking thrust was shut down by Kean & co today and Alba was again error-prone defensively.
Pedri (6.5) –
The 18-year-old midfielder plays his biggest UCL game ever today. Played a brilliant threaded pass to send Griezmann through on goal in the 14th. Makes a crucial clearance five minutes later to deny PSG a goal.
After that defensively he wasn’t the sharpest, but still looked Barca’s brightest output in creating stuff from midfield. Every time he had the ball, he looked to create something special and troubled PSG with his diverse passing. Just not clinical enough with his final passes.
Sergio Busquets (5.5) –
The oldest in the Barca midfield is trying his best to make good use of his intelligence to close down spaces for PSG’s midfielders. But his lack of speed cost Busquets, as he was unable to press the PSG midfielders or stop their fast-paced attacks as efficiently as he’d want. Subbed late on after visibly growing tired into the game.
Frenkie De Jong (5.0) –
De Jong was very lucky to earn the penalty for Messi’s strike, as the ‘foul’ leading to it looked like the Dutchman had actually tripped over himself rather than actually being impeded inside the box. After that, he struggled to ensure that his side dominated the game and was too safe with his passing. Couldn’t do much to shut down PSG’s midfielders and ultimately lost out the midfield battle.
Lionel Messi (7.0) –
With rumours circulating over his future, Messi looks to create a nightmare for his (potential) future team. Made no mistake when given a penalty, blasting it into the top corner to get the party rolling for Barca. Messi quickly realized after that that he’d need to get things started by himself, opting to drop deep into midfield to do so.
Actually did create a couple of decent chances but his teammates were just not lively enough on the day. Barca’s best player in a dull day.
Antoine Griezmann (6.5) –
Griezmann got a big chance to open the scoring in the 14th after brisking int a great scoring area, but saw his effort saved. Carried the ball forward superbly in a thunderous counter-attack in the 37th, only to see his shot graze agonizingly wide of the target. Nearly scored a fortunate goal in the 82nd after some decent pressing, when Navas’ botched clearance hit him but went wide.
Worked very hard to get something for his side and linked-up really well in the final third too. Just not fortunate enough to get a goal in the end.
Ousmane Dembele (4.0) –
Dembele has enjoyed great form in the UCL this season and looks dangerous with his movement early on. GOt a big chance to double his side’s lead minutes after Messi’s opener, but his weak right-footed attempt from close range was easily saved. Burst past Kurzawa with a brilliant move in the 76th, but his shot blazed over.
His crossing or general delivery from the right wing was poor and the Frenchman couldn’t at all damage PSG’s ‘weak link’ on his side. To make things worse, he missed crucial chances which shifted the tides of the game too!
Oscar Mingueza (5.0) –
Mingueza came on for Dest to give more of an attacking edge to Barca, but was not really able to create anything in the final third of the game.
Francisco Trincao (N/R) –
The tricky winger showed off some nice link-up play with Messi, but ultimately unable to make any difference in the result.
Ricard Puig (N/R) –
Puig did nothing more than make a few nice passes in midfield towards the end, which weren’t really threatening enough to trouble PSG.
Miralem Pjanic (N/R) –
Operated very deeply to create any goals for his side and his set-pieces weren’t really that good today either.
Martin Braithwaite (N/R) –
Braithwaite got himself in a prime goal-scoring position towards the end, but Marquinhos denied him a possible goal with a solid block.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Messi was Barca’s best today, but this definitely goes to Kylian Mbappe. That was his best performance in a PSG shirt ever and he was just an absolute beast today. Definitely my MOTM today.