Barcelona vs PSG was the perfect example of what this season is all about. Extremely underwhelming performance by Barcelona in the first leg at Nou Camp meant they need to score 4 goals in Paris to progress.
PSG vs Barcelona – the line-ups and approach
Ronald Koeman put his best eleven on the pitch and waited for a response from his players. Messi, Griemzann, and Dembélé were leading the attack. Pedri-De Jong-Busquets were forming the usual midfield partnership.
However, when building up, De Jong went into a deeper role. That freed up space in the middle for Pedri, Busquets, and Leo Messi when he decides to drop back. So the formation in build-up looks a bit more familiar to the ones from the games with Sevilla.
The first half was one of the worst in PSG history. The French side conceded nine shots on target, an all-time high in the Champions League at home, and can be considered lucky the score was tied at the break.
Chances, chances and more chances
Countless opportunities in front of Dembélé to put one in the back of the net, but Ousmane never found his finishing touch. When we talk about Dembélé, we always mention his exceptional dribbling skills and approach play. The one thing missing on a consistent basis is his finishing. He could’ve scored four goals in the first half alone. Exceptional build-up play that leaves Griezmann, Dembélé, and Messi in a 3 v 3 scenario at the halfway line.
Dembélé makes the scenario even better. He is 1 v 1 with Kimpembe and seemingly has the better of him. He blasts his shot over the bar. Later on, Dest cannoned a shot at Keylor Navas, who just tipped it against the crossbar. Close for the American, but all those chances kept on giving hope to Barcelona.
And another clear chance for Dembélé to score before the half goes begging. The Frenchman couldn’t score to save his life in that game. It happens, of course, but the timing of it is very frustrating. On a positive note, Barcelona hasn’t created that many chances in a single game, let alone in the first half for years now.
The thing we have seen all season materialized this game. Barcelona needs dozens of chances to score, and even when the team is playing with real purpose and carries threat going forward, clear opportunities were wasted, and more often than not, the team ends up paying for it.
The technology in football or how to make a fool out of the referees
It is worth mentioning yet another baffling decision from VAR. Verratti encroaches the area, and by the letter of the law, the penalty should be retaken. Not only that, Verratti is the one clearing the ball away after it bounced off the crossbar.
A decisive moment in the game where Barcelona could’ve gone into half-time with a 1:2 lead. Either way, we need to understand the real reason why the team is out of the Champions League.
That wasn’t the case in this particular game, however, it is almost impossible to erase the whole season by performing admirably in one game.
The disgusting first-leg performance from Barcelona was enough for PSG to go through to the quarter-finals of the competition.
That’s not the end of the world, though. Barcelona is still pretty much alive in the La Liga title race and finalist in the Copa del Rey.
Nothing else is needed apart from solid performances and a lot of desire to win those two competitions. Regardless of the results, Barcelona can be proud of the second leg display.
Unfortunately, at the highest levels of professional football, one good performance can’t create wonders. At the end of the Champions League campaign, Barcelona got what they deserved. And yes, I do understand that PSG’s performance was absolutely atrocious. And I understand that the comeback was there for the taking. But I also deep down know that Barcelona simply didn’t do enough over the two legs.