There was enthusiasm, there was spirit, however in the end there was Kylian Mbappe and a brutal reality verify for Barcelona.
Ronald Koeman’s side suffered a crushing 4-1 defeat by Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday night in the Champions League last 16, and they’re going to want one other ‘remontada’ to get out of this one. It doesn’t look doubtless.
Their entire season is nearly over, when it comes to potential trophies, however this marketing campaign by no means appeared promising on that entrance after final summer season’s 8-2 annihilation by Bayern Munich and Lionel Messi’s foiled try to flee.
Koeman took over with the mandate of transferring on among the veterans and bringing by youth gamers, whereas making certain Barcelona didn’t embarrass themselves once more. So, it’s unhappy, however not stunning, that they discover themselves right here, not among the many sport’s elite groups.
They are on the verge of elimination in Europe, 2-0 down of their Copa del Rey semi-final towards Sevilla, and eight factors behind La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid, having performed a sport extra.
A string of excellent leads to 2021, Messi returning to kind and the rise of 18-year-old starlet Pedri Gonzalez gave Barcelona hope, which augmented additional with Neymar and Angel di Maria’s accidents ruling them out of this first-leg conflict in Catalunya.
The pendulum shifted from 2020 runners-up PSG’s favour, when the final 16 draw was made, in the direction of Barcelona. Or so we thought. The first half mirrored that in an end-to-end, roll-with-the-punches thriller.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen and the jittery Sergino Dest have been in a position, between them, to cease Mbappe within the first minute, whereas Pedri’s chic go for Antoine Griezmann was wasted by the ahead.
Barcelona took the lead by Messi, scoring his fourth aim within the Champions League this season, all of them from the penalty spot, after Layvin Kurzawa introduced down Frenkie de Jong.
It was an unintentional journey by the French full-back, a gentle penalty which stoked reminiscences of the 2 conceded within the notorious 6-1 comeback in March 2017, however he made contact with the Dutchman.
Messi’s penalty was emphatically slotted house (no surprise Manchester City are enthusiastic about him!) and 2021 is now the seventeenth consecutive calendar yr that he has scored within the Champions League, equalling Real Madrid legend Raul Gonzalez’s file, set between 1995-2011.
Ousmane Dembele ought to have doubled Barcelona’s lead however despatched a tame shot at Keylor Navas, which was harking back to his notorious miss towards Liverpool within the 2019 semi-final first leg that ought to have despatched his group 4-0 up. Instead, the rating stayed at three and everyone knows what occurred at Anfield…
Barcelona have been made to pay, then and now, with Mbappe rapidly firing PSG stage. If he had a second of luck when his slack contact to management bounced up to him as an alternative of away from him, there was nothing lucky about what occurred subsequent.
With lightning pace reactions he minimize left after which lashed previous Ter Stegen, into the roof of the online.
Mbappe’s lesser compatriot, Griezmann, fired extensive on the different finish on a powerful Barcelona counter as they confirmed they have been nonetheless within the battle.
Mbappe’s affect solely grew within the second half, as he confirmed why he will likely be soccer’s true subsequent famous person, making an attempt to take the reins from Messi himself on this match.
His second was a poacher’s end and after the unmarked Moise Kean headed within the third, Mbappe produced a superb curled effort to kill Barcelona and the tie on a speedy counter.
Barcelona rushed Gerard Pique again from a close to three-month harm for this sport however he might as properly have stayed at house as Mbappe toyed with Barcelona, who have been at all times recoiling, flailing and ultimately crumbling.
This wasn’t an 8-2 end-of-an-era humiliation like towards Bayern, however nor did it show a good battle by the top. It showed how far Barcelona have yet to go to recover what they once were.
It also shows why Messi was desperate to leave in the summer, and why he may properly achieve this in the summertime forward.
There might but be additional to fall earlier than Barcelona can rise once more.