Three things we learned from Barcelona – PSG


Barcelona – PSG: Lionel Messi’s first-half penalty was a distant memory by the time Kylian Mbappe completed his hat trick in a 4-1 first leg demolition of hosts Barcelona in a UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

Playing without trident mates Angel Di Maria and Neymar, Mbappe scored three times and completed nine out of 10 dribbles in a masterclass performance, joined on the score sheet by Everton loanee Moise Kean as PSG will bring four away goals back to the Parc des Princes.

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Mbappe scored his 22nd, 23rd, and 24th Champions League goals — two more than his age of 22 — for his second career UCL hat trick.

The second leg is March 10 in France.

Three things we learned from Barcelona – PSG

1. Mbappe takes yet another step: No Neymar, no Angel Di Maria, no problem.

Kylian Mbappe, who just turned 22 in December, was essentially perfect. He put four of his six shot attempts on target, completed nine dribbles, only misplayed five of 31 passes in registering four key passes. The world’s best player not named Messi, Ronaldo, or Neymar continues to ask whether he shouldn’t be considered above all but the Argentine, winning 12-of-15 duels as well.

Kean absolutely roasted American youngster Sergino Dest, who should burn the game film. Tidy with the ball, Dest was left out to dry by his center backs but failed to save the day when met with the left-sided menace known as Mbappe.

2. Another Barcelona mess in the UCL: Losing to the finalists from the previous season is not shameful, home-field advantage is lessened by empty stadia, and Barcelona is nowhere near its peak powers despite the presence of history’s greatest player. All that taken into consideration, Barca still disappointed at home on Tuesday.

Now Barca’s in its own head. This is their UCL history since beating Juventus 3-1 in the 2014-15 final:

  • Fell 2-0 at Atletico Madrid after bringing a 2-1 lead into the second leg in 2015-16.
  • Managed zero goals at the Camp Nou after falling 3-0 at Juventus in the 2016-17 quarterfinals.
  • Blew a 4-1 lead built at home to Roma via a 3-0 loss in Italy.
  • Choked away a 3-0 home first leg versus Liverpool by losing 4-0 at Anfield.
  • Lost 8-2 to Bayern in last season’s UCL quarterfinal.

Four away goals for PSG at home, without Neymar? Come on, fellas.

3. Even first half sees stars shine but Messi largely alone over 90: Lionel Messi helped win a penalty with a near-perfect long pass to Frenkie de Jong in the box, then smashed home the spot kick. He then watched Mbappe put the finishing touch on a brilliant team goal to make it 1-1. PSG finished the opening 45 minutes with 51 percent of the ball but Barca had a 6-4 edge in attempts and 3-2 in shots on target. It was a brilliant first stanza that made us grateful there were at least four more on tap over the next month. Messi scored but was deprived of the ball. He could’ve had two assists on the day and set up the penalty with a maestro-like pass to De Jong but there’s only so much a man can do.

Man of the Match: Kylian Mbappe

Though Kurzawa, Verratti, and Leandro Paredes were also wonderful.

Barcelona – PSG recap

Les Parisiens had a good start with plenty of the ball but Barcelona provided a good threat when Pedri slipped Antoine Griezmann into the 18, though Presnel Kimpembe handled the French forward.

A dangerous-looking PSG attack led to a mishit shot from the left that dribbled under an adventuring Marc-Andre ter Stegen but never came near the goal line.

Barca headed to the spot in the 26th minute when Frenkie de Jong got his foot clipped while both the midfielder and Layvin Kurzawa were tracking a long diagonal ball.

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Messi clobbered the penalty kick into the top of the goal for 1-0.

The Argentine then slipped the ball to Ousmane Dembele just behind the penalty spot but the winger couldn’t dig the ball out from beneath his feet and put a tepid shot into the hands of a stooped Keylor Navas.

PSG scored in the 32nd minute through Mbappe, who smashed a thunderous shot into the upper reaches of the goal after a brilliant switch saw a pair of quick passes and clever touches.

Griezmann led a 40-yard dribble and struck a low drive from the left of the 18-yard box that beat a diving Gulacsi but failed to sneak inside the far post.

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Ter Stegen made an incredible reaction save on a deflected effort as both teams zipped up-and-down the pitch in first few minutes of the second half.

Alessandro Florenzi’s hopeful end line clearance broke for Mbappe, who smashed home for 2-0 in the 65th.