- Alex Urquiza
Barcelona 1-4 PSG: Another "remontada" required for Barcelona to go through
FC Barcelona continues their poor UEFA Champions League knock-out stage form with a 1-4 loss at home against last year’s finalist PSG. Kylian Mbappe takes the spotlight after becoming the first player to score a hat-trick at the Camp Nou in Champions League history.
After the staggering defeat, Barcelona is on the verge to be eliminated in the Round of 16 in the Champions League for the first time since 2007. Barcelona is hoping for history to repeat itself as they will now need to complete another "remontada" against PSG as they did in 2017, where they came back in the second leg to win 6-1 after losing 4-0 in the first leg. Barcelona has now conceded 12 goals in their last 2 knockout stages in the Champions League, with the Catalans continuing their dreadful form in the Champions League knockout stages.
Barcelona took the lead in the 27th minute, with club captain Lionel Messi converting a penalty after a controversial penalty was awarded to the Catalans. PSG responded within 5 minutes, with Kylian Mbappe getting past Barca center-back Clement Lenglet and blasting the ball past goalkeeper Marc Ander Ter-Stegen. The first half ended 1-1 with PSG nearly scoring again but were denied by Ter Stegen twice.
The second half began with PSG manager Mauricio Pochettino making a smart choice subbing off Idrissa Gueye who was on a yellow card, bringing on Ander Herrera, and allowing PSG not to worry about going a man down.
PSG took the lead in the 65th minute after full-back Alessandro Florenzi races behind Barca's high defensive line and attempts to square it off to striker Mauricio Icardi. Barca center-back Gerard Pique makes a block but it goes straight to the path of Mbappe who isn't missing from there. 5 minutes pass by and PSG wins a free-kick in a perfect set piece position. Leandro Paredes lofts the ball into the 18-yard box and striker Moise Keane loses his man and heads it past Ter Stegan.
The entire backline was horrendous for Barcelona, with right-back Sergino Dest being taken off in the 71st minute being unable to handle Mbappe. Gerard Pique made his first start in nearly three months and was hooked off in the 79th minute, as Barca boss Ronald Koeman attempted to add more attacking-minded players to get back into the tie. However, this backfired for the Dutch manager as Barca gave the ball away outsides PSG's penalty area, and the Parisians started a counterattack. It ends up being three versus two and Julian Draxler lays the ball up to Mbappe who curls the ball into the back of the net, completing his hat-trick. The first leg ends in a 1-4 win to PSG, getting 4 crucial away goals in the process.
PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino starts his European Campaign with PSG with a dominant performance even though he was missing their main man Neymar due to injury. Angel Di Maria was also left out injured, missing two of his three main attackers, but that didn't stop Mbappe from taking the headlines.
PSG will now be focused more than ever before in the second leg to prevent another embarrassing slip-up against Barcelona. The good news for PSG is that the man who inspired the remontada for Barcelona against them four years ago now plays for them, as Neymar should be fit for the second fixture against his former club. As for Barcelona, a miracle is needed for them to get past the Parisians, and based on their current form, it's not looking very likely for them to go through.