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Champions League: Marvellous Mbappe Signals Changing of the Guard at Camp Nou?


Champions League: Marvellous Mbappe Signals Changing of the Guard at Camp Nou?

Barcelona 1-4 Paris Saint-Germain

It’s too early to say if this result has sparked the end of a Barcelona era. In truth, that seminal moment probably arrived last summer when eventual Champions League winners Bayern Munich demolished them at the quarter-final stage.

In fact, this Champions League result wasn’t even a shock, despite the SBOTOP Champions League 2021 betting odds making Barca favourites.

However, there is no doubt that here was further evidence that the class of 2021 is a pale imitation of the side which graced this competition for the best part of a decade with four successes in 10 years.

There was a brief moment when it looked like the Catalans may roll back the years when Frenkie de Jong was accidentally tripped in the box by Layvin Kurzawa and Lionel Messi duly converted the penalty midway through the first half.

But that thought lasted all of five minutes as one of those considered to be the main contenders to take his and Cristiano Ronaldo’s mantle as the best players on planet football quickly intervened.

Highlights of the game

Spanish media suspected those inside the Nou Camp may see Kylian Mbappe at his clinical best – and they weren’t wrong.

Marco Verratti flicked the ball with the outside of his foot to his French team-mate who still had plenty to do but, surrounded by defenders, showed composure and awareness to shift the ball into space and drill it past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

That the hosts, welcoming back Gerard Pique for the first time since November, remained level until the 65th minute was as much down to ter Stegen as anyone until Mbappe delivered the second of his personal Champions League 2021 highlights.

Alessandro Florenzi’s low cross towards Mauro Icardi was blocked by Pique but Mbappe gleefully followed up.

Five minutes later and it was all over for Barcelona, attempting to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League for a record 14th consecutive season.

The stylish Leandro Paredes delivered a free-kick that found the unmarked Moise Kean, and his downward header bounced up through the hands of ter Stegen and into the net.

The look on Pique’s face summed it up as the cultured centre-back, who has won this competition four times with Barca and Man Utd, realised he was playing for a team someway below that of more recent sides.

As they returned to the scene of their 2017 nightmare – a result which was only made possible by some highly questionable refereeing decisions – Paris Saint-Germain’s revenge was achieved when Mbappe completed a hat-trick five minutes from time.

A devastating counter-attack saw Julian Draxler lead a break which was rounded off by the frightening young Frenchman, who curled a superb shot into the far corner

Barcelona famously came back from a 4-0 defeat against PSG in 2017, winning the second leg 6-1. They have precisely zero chance of turning this around.

Key statistics

Mbappe is the third player in Champions League history to score a hat-trick against Barcelona, after Faustino Asprilla (Newcastle) and Andriy Shevchenko (Dynamo Kiev) in 1997, both matches in the group stage.

Messi’s penalty was his 20th goal of the season for Barcelona in all competitions; it’s the 13th consecutive campaign he has scored more than 20 goals for the club.

This was only the second time in 34 games that Barcelona have lost at home in the knockout stages of the Champions League. The most recent was a 3-0 defeat against Bayern Munich in the 2013 semi-finals.

Manchester United Asian Handicap -0.25 @ 1.85

Over 2.50 @ 1.90

Total Goals 2-3 @ 1.81

PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino played for Barcelona’s city rivals Espanyol between 1994 and 2001.

Barcelona have knocked out PSG in each of their past three Champions League knock-out ties: 2012-13 quarter-finals, 2014-15 quarter-finals and 2016-17 last 16. The only previous time PSG overcame the Catalans in a Champions League knockout tie was in the 1994-95 quarter-finals.

This was PSG’s first away win against a Spanish side in the knockout stages since they defeated Valencia eight years ago.

What’s next?

It’s back to La Liga now for Barca and successive home matches against strugglers Cadiz and Elche (February 21 and 24).

Likewise, PSG are in Ligue 1 action at the weekend as they host fourth-placed Monaco.

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 


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