When Barcelona were drawn against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League draw back in December, many were excited to see Neymar’s return to the Camp Nou. However, with Neymar’s absence in the first leg, the headlines will be quite different.
PSG won the game 4-1. Although the score was level going into the half, Les Parisiens were the superior side throughout the game. Here are the biggest takeaways from the rout from Paris Saint-Germain over Barcelona in the Champions League.
Paris Saint-Germain Ease Past Barcelona in the Champions League
The Champions League – Kylian Mbappe Show as Paris Saint-Germain Run Riot
Only one name will be on everybody’s lips after the match and that name is Kylian Mbappe. The match was billed the present against the future as Lionel Messi‘s Barcelona were going head to head with Mbappe’s PSG. However, Mbappe isn’t just the future of football; at the age of 22, he is also the present. Objectively, the Frenchmen is already one of the world’s best. He’s won a World Cup, multiple league titles and played in a Champions League final. On top of that, Mbappe rose to the occasion in a crucial Champions League matchup with a wonderfully taken hat-trick.
While this is one of the weaker Barcelona sides of the 21st century, Mbappe became the first player since Andriy Schevchenko in 1997 to score a Champions League hat-trick against the Blaugrana at the Nou Camp. He was brilliant, there are no two ways about it. If people weren’t convinced already, this might have been the match that will convert the few non-believers into thinking that the torch that Messi held onto for over a decade has finally been passed down.
Barcelona Falter Against Another Top Side
Barcelona have had a campaign to forget. Barring a miracle, they will not win La Liga, they must overturn a 2-0 deficit to Sevilla in the Copa Del Rey semi-finals and now they’re looking at a probable Champions League round of 16 exit for the first time in 14 years. While Barcelona have been able to find some positives this season with the overdue re-implementation of their youth policy, it might be too little too late.
Ronald Koeman‘s side can be too much to handle for provincial teams, as they attack with pace and energy. However, it’s been a whole different story against top teams this season, especially at the Camp Nou. In a campaign where there are no fans, home advantage isn’t as much of a factor, but it’s still worrying nonetheless.
Already this season, Barcelona have been beaten by Juventus and Real Madrid at the Camp Nou. Now adding on this defeat, Barcelona have conceded ten goals in those three games. When it comes to stepping up against the bigger competition, it’s been men against boys for Barcelona, with the Catalans playing as the latter.
Moise Kean Steps Up in the Champions League
Who would’ve predicted that the on-loan Everton youngster would be such a welcome addition to Les Parisiens this season? Kean has scored ten goals in 15 starts in Ligue 1 so far this season. However, the Champions League knockout stages are a different beast. With the big absences of Neymar and Angel Di Maria, Kean slotted in very comfortably in the attack.
According to whoscored.com, Kean had three shots on target, completed a key pass, four dribbles, and scored the third goal for Paris Saint-Germain from a header in a brilliant Champions League performance. It’ll be interesting to see if PSG secure a permanent signing for the Italian youngster in the summer. Based on his performances thus far, they’d be silly not to. When they are at full strength, Kean will be an understudy, but at only 20-years-old, the sky is the limit for the former Juventus man.
Is this the Last Dance for Messi in a Barcelona Shirt?
Messi will make his decision about his future at Barcelona at the end of the season. However, we’ve likely seen the last of Barcelona legend Messi at the Camp Nou in the Champions League. Barcelona will go to Paris in March and need a La Remontada-Esque comeback to overturn this 4-1 deficit. Unfortunately for Barcelona, their current team is miles off the team they had four years ago.
The Barcelona faithful might want to look away but that could have been the last time Messi steps on the Camp Nou for Barcelona in the Champions League, the same competition he won four times. It’s a sad way to go out, in an empty Camp Nou against a team that is stronger, faster, and way hungrier than this current incarnation of Barcelona. Fans will want to remember the happier memories for Messi in a blue and red striped kit. If that is it then what an end of an era.