• The victory of a collective
In March 2017, on the occasion of the comeback, the entire Parisian collective had sunk against FC Barcelona at Camp Nou. Against the same team, and in the same stadium on Tuesday night, all the PSG players responded to achieve a very great collective performance, much higher than that of the Catalans. However, Paris could have sank after the opening of the Barcelona score. In recent seasons, the players of the capital club had shown limits in managing weak times. But, Tuesday, February 16, PSG quickly recovered, equalizing just five minutes after Messi’s goal, before taking the advantage definitively.
A burst of pride on the part of a collective which has assumed its status as finalist of the last edition of the Champions League. And which proves that Parisians have better control over their emotions. “Emotions make us behave in such and such a way. We have worked in this area and we will continue to do so“Mauricio Pochettino said at a post-match press conference.
The Paris Saint-Germain collective also manifested itself in the most beautiful way on the equalization of Mbappé following a beautiful action. Impressive mastery, PSG has made short work of Barça. But the Parisians should not stop there before the return leg, as Pochettino stressed after the meeting: “Perfection does not exist. We are improving, but there is still a lot to work on. I am very happy and very proud of my players who played a great game“.
• A Mbappé found
Within the Parisian collective, an individuality has nevertheless stood out. Unstoppable last night, author of a hat-trick, Kylian Mbappé finally achieved in the Champions League the reference match that all Parisian supporters expected from him. Since his arrival in the capital club three seasons ago, the 2018 world champion had scored only one goal in the knockout matches of C1 in nine games.
An insufficient record for a player who wishes to obtain more responsibilities within the Parisian workforce. The PSG striker has also not hidden having gone through a complicated period in recent months. “I have not always been successful. Never in my life will I hide if I make mistakes“, he declared Tuesday evening at the microphone of RMC Sport after the meeting.
But in the absence of Neymar and Angel Di Maria, Mbappé has proven that he can be the strong man of PSG. First by showing that he is a technically fine player on his first goal. Then by showing off his quality of finish, especially on his third goal. Criticized in recent months, Mbappé has found simplicity on Tuesday evening, and also enjoyed a few acceleration phases that are specific to him.
“No one finds out tonight: Kylian is a world-class player“said Mauricio Pochettino at a post-match press conference.”It’s good, I’m happy, I always wanted to give the best of myself“, concluded the three-time Parisian scorer, left with the match ball under his arm, as is customary.
• Verratti-Paredes, the regulator duo
In recent weeks, Marco Verratti and Leandro Paredes used to play two in midfield. In the absence of Neymar, the first moved a notch higher Tuesday evening. But this change did not destabilize the two Parisian circles, quite the contrary. Verratti and Paredes ruled the day and completely dominated the opposing trio of Sergio Busquets, Pedri and Frenkie De Jong. Closer to Mbappé than usual, Verratti was decisive on the first Parisian goal, offering an assist to the 2018 world champion with a superb deflection.
A gesture that delighted Mauricio Pochettino, who does not hesitate to make him play higher on the field since his arrival. “Marco is a player who reads the game a lot. Each time, he allows the balls to come out cleanly and to launch the attacks well. And in the offensive phases, it is decisive. He had a really great game“, declared the Parisian coach at the microphone of RMC Sport after the meeting. Paredes is also not left out.
The Argentine midfielder, who occupied a substitute position in Paris until Pochettino’s arrival, served as a regulator within the Parisian milieu. He is the source of PSG’s second goal signed Mbappé, with a superb opening for Alessandro Florenzi in depth. Thanks to this duo of midfielders rarely put in difficulty with the ball to the foot, Paris can in any case aim high.
• Kean, a paying choice
When the composition of PSG was announced, only the tenure of Moise Kean appeared as a surprise. Pablo Sarabia was more expected in a right winger position that suits him more. But if Kean is a training goalscorer, the Italian made a great performance against Barça. To the right of the attack from Paris, Kean was omnipresent, especially in the first period with good runs on the ball.
Precious ball returns for PSG which have relieved the collective. Also present defensively, the Italian striker was rewarded for his efforts in the second half. On an off-center free kick from Leandro Paredes, Kean headed to beat Marc-André Ter Stegen and score the third Parisian goal of the evening. A great match for the 20-year-old Italian, on loan from Everton to PSG this season.
• Barça went missing in the second half
At the half hour mark, Ousmane Dembélé could have tipped the match in favor of Barça. While the Catalans led 1-0, the French winger missed a great opportunity to double the bet for his own. This turning point in the match allowed the equalization of PSG a few minutes later, before the Parisians definitely took the advantage in the second half. Because the Barcelona have completely disappeared in the second half, only making the siege of the Parisian goal from the moment when they were led by two goals.
“We missed a lot of things“, recognized Ronald Koeman, Barça coach, in a post-match press conference. Lionel Messi, Barcelona scorer in the first half, was also absent from the discussions in the second half. Despite the heavy defeat. and the feeling of helplessness that Barça suggested, Pochettino did not want to ignite: “We must respect Barça. If there had been 2-0, the game would have been different. We must therefore remain moderate. There is one return match to play to qualifyThe date and place of this meeting are known: March 10 at the Parc des Princes.