Paris Saint-Germain

PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 14:  Julian Draxler of Paris Saint-Germain looks on during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Paris Saint-Germain and FC Barcelona at Parc des Princes on February 14, 2017 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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PSG drops points against Toulouse days after massive UCL win

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Just days after its massive (and somewhat unexpected) beatdown of Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain failed to close the gap on league leaders Monaco.

[ MORE: Messi brace rescues Barca, Pescara earns second win ]

PSG settled for a 0-0 draw on Sunday at the Parc des Princes against eighth-place Toulouse, leaving the Parisian side three points behind Monaco through 26 rounds of action.

[ MORE: Bielsa returns to Ligue 1 with Lille ]

Despite holding the visitors to just three shots (one on target), Toulouse managed to contain a rampant PSG attack, which posted four goals midweek in their rout of the Blaugrana.

PSG’s first strong chance came in the 14th minute when Lucas Moura’s effort was saved in the bottom corner by goalkeeper Alban Lafont.

Meanwhile, Edinson Cavani may have had the game’s best opportunity to break the deadlock when the Uruguayan attacker struck the post from inside the penalty area.

Unai Emery’s group will be back in action on Feb. 26 when PSG travels to Dimitri Payet and Marseille.

PSG respond strongly to reports of Thiago Silva’s mental weakness

PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 13: Thiago Silva of PSG looks on prior to the UEFA Champions League Group A match between Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal FC at Parc des Princes on September 13, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Paris Saint-Germain strongly supported captain Thiago Silva after reports in French publication L’Equipe suggested that the Brazilian’s injury problems are not as serious as the club has made them out to be.

According to the often explosive French newspaper, the 32-year-old defender missed the pummeling of Barcelona not because of a calf bruise but was because he was “frozen with fear” ahead of one of the biggest games of his life.

“It’s hard to say if he’s injured,” said an unnamed source L’Equipe referred to as a “regular at the training center.” “Medical examinations did not show much. It looks as though he has tensed up at the approach of the event.” L’Equipe is known for its harsh words and even harsher match ratings, and occasionally seems to embellish otherwise routine stories.

PSG responded with an exclusive in Brazilian newspaper Globoesporte, saying, “Thiago Silva was injured after the Ligue 1 clash with Lille [on February 7th],” the statement from the French champions read. “The diagnosis was heavy bruising on his left calf — he did not play against Bordeaux the week before the Champions League match at home to Barcelona.”

“Thiago Silva is our captain, the man of great games, who is always there through the difficult times and is appreciated by the staff and his teammates. Everyone at the club is shocked by the doubts some have expressed about his motivation.”

The L’Equipe claim doesn’t seem to hold much water. Thiago Silva is an experienced Brazilian international and has played Champions League matches against clubs like Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, and even Barcelona twice in the 2014/15 campaign, which both times resulted in a 3-1 loss. He is also known to be injury prone, with the club even pointing out that after the unsuccessful World Cup in 2014, Silva returned to the club early to help them start the season, only to result in an injury in doing so.

After the Lille match where he picked up the injury, Silva missed the following Ligue 1 meeting, a trip to Bordeaux which PSG won 3-0. The article went on to say that the injury is severe enough to keep Silva out of the next Ligue 1 match, a home date with Toulouse, and he is expected to return for the trip to Marseille on February 26th. That would theoretically see Silva fit enough to play in the second leg against Barcelona on March 8th.

Without the captain on the field, manager Unai Emery instead was forced to pair an incredibly young duo of Marquinhos (22 years old) and Presnel Kimpembe (21 years old) in central defense, the latter of whom made his Champions League debut. With the help of successful midfield cover in Adrian Rabiot, he two held Lionel Messi, Neymar, and Luis Suarez scoreless in the 4-0 demolition.

Suarez: Barca relishes “beautiful challenge” of overturning 4-0

PSG's Thomas Meunier, left, and Barcelona's Luis Suarez challenge for the ball during the Champions League first leg knockout round match Paris Saint Germain against Barcelona, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
AP Photo/Michel Euler
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The common though following Paris Saint-Germain’s 4-0 first leg domination of Barcelona is there may be only one or two teams capable of overcoming such a lopsided defeat in a home second leg.

No surprise here, but Barca is one of them.

[ MORE: Slumping Spurs “have to be clever” ]

Saying the loss was “painful”, Blaugranas forward Luis Suarez wants to flip the script in a big way and make history.

From the BBC:

“We are the best team in the world. If there is a team that can overturn this situation, it’s Barcelona.”

“To lose in the manner that we did in the last 16 is difficult and painful. It’s going to be very difficult but it’s a beautiful challenge,” added 30-year-old Suarez.

The problem isn’t scoring four goals, it’s keeping a clean sheet and scoring four goals (or scooping a five-goal win).

Paris Saint-Germain overwhelmed Barca in the first leg with incredible pressing and a knack for taking away space. Luis Enrique will not only have to have his players produce a dynamic performance, he’ll have to be tactically brilliant.

Barcelona’s Enrique, Busquets disagree on reasons for big loss

Barcelona's head coach Luis Enrique applauds during the Champions League first leg knockout round match Paris Saint Germain against Barcelona, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
AP Photo/Michel Euler
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Sergio Busquets says he knows why Barcelona was waxed by Paris Saint-Germain in Tuesday’s first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

“It wasn’t a question of our attitude,” Busquets said, via Marca. “Just that they pressed more, were better tactically, had a plan that they executed better.”

[ MORE: Match recap | Di Maria gushes ]

Given Busquets’ tactical admission, it comes as no surprise that Barcelona boss Luis Enrique strongly disagrees with the midfielder.

From Yahoo! Sports:

“It is difficult to explain. They were superior to us from the start. It was a disastrous night for us in which we were clearly inferior. There’s not much more to say.”

“PSG did what we expected them to do and produced their best version and we were at our poorest.”

If that’s what Barcelona expected and instructed, then it isn’t down to tactics. And to be fair to Enrique, PSG attacked Barca right off the field.

Without even a road goal to its name, it’s difficult to believe Barca has a shot of overturning the 4-0 deficit (especially if PSG adopts the same tactics of pressing and aggression).

PSG’s Di Maria raves after birthday beatdown of Barcelona

PSG's Angel Di Maria, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring his team opening goal during the Champions League first leg knockout round match Paris Saint Germain against Barcelona, at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris, Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
AP Photo/Michel Euler
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Angel Di Maria used the word “impossible”, and we only believe it because we saw it.

Di Maria and Paris Saint-Germain battered Barcelona in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match-up on Tuesday, with the Argentine scoring twice on his 29th birthday.

The 4-0 win also saw a goal from fellow birthday boy Edinson Cavani, as Les Parisiens would need an epic collapse at the Camp Nou on March 8 to avoid one of its biggest triumphs in club history.

[ WATCH: Di Maria’s free kick goal ]

Di Maria, along with Marco Verratti and Julian Draxler, had Barca running in circles. PSG controlled the game so much that Lionel Messi did not manage a touch inside Kevin Trapp’s 18-yard-box.

From the BBC:

“It is impossible to have a better performance and birthday. it was a wonderful display and we deserved the win. We controlled the game for 90 minutes. It is hard to control Neymar, Suarez and Messi but we managed it. We covered ground and worked hard. The big thing is the win and moving forward.

“Our aim is to reach the final and win the Champions League. We are getting there gradually. This was a game against one of the best teams in the world. There is still more to do at the Camp Nou. They will be quick out of the blocks. We will have to do the same as tonight and more.”

Or put forth half the performance and manage to keep it within three goals (or within four and score). Quite a birthday for ADM and PSG in the UCL.