If I’m a Barcelona player, I’m taking particular pride in this one. PSG head coach Carlo Ancelotti seemed to press all the right buttons, leaving his team having advantages at the onset of each leg. They were patient, let Barcelona keep the ball, but with each turnover seemed to put Lucas Moura and Ezequiel Lavezzi within one dribble of defining the match.
And then there was the injury to Lionel Messi, an ailment that kept the world’s best player on the sidelines for 107 of the tie’s 180 minutes. During the time he was out, Barcelona didn’t score from open play, Xavi Hernández’s late penalty conversion in Paris one of the few shots Barça put on goal without their focal point on the field.
Carles Puyol was out. Javier Mascherano went down. And Barça were facing a team that, as it turned out, was perfectly setup to push them. Yet in the end, Barcelona crafted the goal they needed to reach a record sixth straight Champions League semifinal.
Not every round features these kinds of obstacles. The ones that do usually knock you out, leaving only regrets about the nature of cup competitions. But Barcelona was able to overcome their hurdles, and while a team with their accomplishments shouldn’t get too caught up in the little things, this little thing is worth a moment’s pause. PSG was far more than a formality.
Here are the highlights of today’s match, courtesy of FOX Soccer.