The phrase “they just wanted it more” is one that I give little credence to. However, it’s one that describes the first leg between Barcelona and PSG as the Parisian cruise to a 4-0 win over a listless Catalan side.
Paris St. Germain dominated both halves of the game. They forced some early saves from Ter Stegen until they were finally able to break through off an Angel Di Maria free kick. It took a small deflection off Suarez’s head but it was no more than PSG deserved.
PSG continued pressing Barcelona which resulted in a lack of fluidity and rhythm from the Catalan side. Every 50/50 ball or rebound would inevitably fall to a PSG player. They continually attacked Barcelona’s right side with Draxler beating Sergi Roberto over and over again. It certainly made things easier for PSG that Andre Gomes provided Roberto almost no cover.
Messi was forced to drop deep to try to get the ball but it led to the second goal as Messi lost the ball, in his own half, and it ultimately ended in Draxler’s goal. Barcelona ended the half feeling fortunate that they were only down by two.
The second half featured more of the same as Luis Enrique made no changes during half-time. It was Di Maria again as he took a shot from long distance and angled it out of the reach of a stretched-out Ter Stegen. It was only then that Luis Enrique brought on Rafinha for Andre Gomes. However, it was too little too late. Cavani would deliver the fourth and final goal as PSG are almost guaranteed a spot in the quarter-finals.
From a Barcelona perspective, what else can be said despite the fact that they were awful. Luis Enrique will rightfully, and has, taken the blame for his team’s performance.
It’s easy to single off one player and, in this case, it would be Andre Gomes as he was useless both on offense and defense. Gomes had the chance to put the game level off a pass from Neymar but his shot was saved by Kevin Trapp. As mentioned, PSG exploited Barcelona’s right flank because Gomes was not providing any defensive support. It’s one of the reasons why Rakitic should have come on at the half or perhaps even in the first half.
However, Andre Gomes is not the sole culprit. Everyone aside from Neymar and Ter Stegen had awful games. The midfield was disconnected from the front three which meant that all PSG needed to do was isolate and pressure Messi which worked to perfection. Barcelona wound up only having two shots on goal and one of them was an Umtiti header that hit off the post. Other than that and the Gomes chance in the first half, Barcelona never really came close to unsettling Trapp or the PSG defense.
This is the second time in recent memory where Barcelona lose the away game 4-0. The last one coming in 2012 when they lost the first game of the 2012 semi-finals to Bayern Munich. This time, it was in the round of 16. Barcelona will need a miracle to make it to the quarter-finals. Coming back from a 4-0 deficit to advance has never been done.
Based on history, Barcelona are all but out of the Champions League and it more than likely means the end of Luis Enrique as Barcelona manager. While I don’t think it’ll happen until the end of the season, it’s probably time for both sides to go their separate way. Luis Enrique was already contemplating leaving after the end of the season but perhaps this loss and the team’s inconsistency throughout the season has made his decision easier.
The team’s style became more direct once he took over, depending more on the brilliance of his trio of Messi, Suarez, and Neymar. Unfortunately, it also resulted in a sort of disconnect with the midfield that still hasn’t been resolved no matter who he plugs in. With an aging squad in key positions, the next manager may have a harder time than he expects. The question is: Who will it be?