Paris Saint-Germain put on an impressive display of skill at the Parc des Princes to thrash Barcelona 4-0, leaving the Catalans needing a miracle to make the quarter-finals.
PSG came out of the gate playing very aggressive football, waiting Barcelona high up the pitch. PSG’s high press caused numerous problems as the Catalans couldn’t pass the ball out of their defensive zone. The hosts were dominating the ball and were in complete control of the game. In the opening five minutes Barcelona only once carried the ball over the midfield line – an attack that was stopped quickly by a foul by Adrien Rabiot, albeit for a yellow card. Barca were flat from the off, with the likes of Luis Suarez, Lionel Messi, Sergio Busquets, Andres Iniesta and Gerard Pique reduced to bystanders by a lean, focused PSG display.
Just after the ten minute mark, Blaise Matuidi was played behind the defense for a one-on-one chance, but his shot was excellently saved by ter Stegen. The rebound fell to Cavani whose attempt was again blocked. The following rebound found Rabiot who fired on target, but Ter Stegen was back in position to make another save. PSG finally got a reward for their fast start on 18 minutes from a superb free-kick by Angel Di Maria.
It took Barca time to respond but when they did, thanks to Neymar’s powerful run and pass, it was nearly 1-1. A Barca break, predictably orchestrated by Neymar, left them exposed on the counter and PSG came close to a second in the 33rd minute when Draxler breezed past Roberto and struck at the near post. Ter Stegen, flinging a glove to his right, made the save.
They deservedly doubled their advantage before half-time after an off-colour Messi gave up possession to Rabiot in midfield. Veratti advanced at speed and when he switched the play to Draxler 12 yards out, the German buried his shot. Former Manchester United man Di Maria made it 3-0 with a long-range stunner on 55 minutes, marking the continuation of a more one-sided second half against the La Liga champions.
With the La Liga side all at sea Edinson Cavani made it 4-0 when he refiled home an unstoppable shot which leaves Luis Enrique’s men all but out of the competition.
Barcelona unleashed one more last ditch flurry, but it was all for naught and they deservedly lost by a large margin. History has shown that Barcelona is capable of beating any opponent by any margin, but based on recent form a turnaround is difficult to envision. Either way, Barcelona will have to quickly forget about this demolition job if they want to keep their (slim) La Liga hopes alive as they take on Leganes on Sunday.