“What just happened?” is what everyone except PSG fans watching this match would have been thinking. PSG may be a team that could rival Barcelona in the transfer market but they were never considered equal to the Catalan giants on the pitch. Today, they have absolutely smashed that notion out of the park.
The birthday boys Edinson Cavani and Angel Di Maria are on the score sheet alongwith Julian Draxler, making his Champions League debut with PSG. Another standout performer has been 21-year-old French full back Adrien Rabiot who, alongwith Marco Verratti managed to keep a lid on the fabled Barcelona mid field.
If any team can score at least four goals in 90 minutes to win a match, it is Barcelona and that is exactly what they will need to do when they host their conquerors at the Nou Camp. They have turned around a two-goal deficit earlier in 2013 when they won the return leg 4-2. That was against an AC Milan side that was slowly dipping in stature in Europe. This is against a resurgent PSG.
0005 hrs IST: The UEFA Champions League is back and off with a cracker. On one hand PSG host Catalan giants Barcelona. Barca have recently found a resurgence in their league form chiefly due to their fabulous ‘MSN’ trio’s contributions up front. Coupled with a formidable defensive line led by Gerard Pique, Barca will be looking to show that they are the dominant side even when up against the cash rich Paris St. Germain, who themselves have seen a spike in their domestic form.
Borrusia Dortmund have had a two-faced season. On one hand, they will have to be content with fighting for Champions League spots in the Bundesliga after dropping out of the title race long time back. On the other, they have been enjoying a scintillating run in Europe so far and have entered the Round of 16 as winners of their group ahead of Real Madrid.
0045 hrs IST: Team News, Barca XI: Ter Stegen, Piqué, Busquets, Iniesta, Suárez, Messi, Neymar, Alba, S. Roberto, A. Gomes, Umtiti, Subs: Cillessen, Rakitic, Denis, Rafinha, Alcácer, Digne, Mathieu
0104 hrs IST: Team News, PSG XI:
— PSG Officiel (@PSG_inside) 14 February 2017
0114 hrs IST: This is it, the players have arrived on the pitch and they will now be raring to go. Andres Iniesta is the man with the armband for Barcelona and Blaise Matuidi leads PSG.
0117 hrs IST: At Lisbon, Benfica and Dortmund have kicked off with Benfica earning an early corner. It comes to nothing and Dortmund broke away with a quick counter. It seemed like they would make it count but Benfica managed to clear the final shot taken by Aubameyang
0120 hrs IST: Barcelona had a free kick that was swung into the box by Lionel Messi. Busquets was the target but PSG managed to clear it and broke away with he counter. They had outnumbered Barca in their own half and Andre Ter Stegen did some intelligent sweeping job for the Catalans.
0122 hrs IST: PSG are dominating play and Edinson Cavani had probably the best chance of the match. Julian Draxler lofted the ball to Cavani who came in behind Sergi Roberto. The Uruguayan was offside but the flag stayed down. Roberto then held his ground and blocked the shot.
0125 hrs IST: At Lisbon, Dortmund took the ball from Benfica at a dangerous part of the pitch. Aubameyang was unmarked and had ample space through the middle and received the ball but in the end skied the shot.
0130 hrs IST: That was another good chance for PSG when Matuidi managed to get into a relatively empty Barca box from the left. He took the shot and it would have gone in had it not been for a sensational one-handed save from Andre Ter Stegen. PSG have Barca on the ropes
0133 hrs IST: Neymar seems to have a niggle. Meanwhile Julian Draxler is brought down just outside the box Umtiti. It’s taken by Di Maria and he SCORES! A beautiful free kick that was curled behind the wall and Ter Stegen who has done a fine job so far, stood no chance. PSG are leading Barcelona and it is an indication of how the match has gone thus far. They have pulled ahead in the 17th minute.
0139 hrs IST: The first real opening that Barca had. Neymar avoids a challenge that came on him and ran into space towards the centre. He then found Andre Gomes who got in behind the PSG defence line and was in the clear. He couldn’t keep the shot away from the keeper.
0148 hrs IST: 30 mins have gone by and it’s PSG 1-0 Barcelona. The home side have been the dominant team as the scoreline shows. Barca have just started to get the ball into the good areas with Neymar being their best player in attack so far. But overall, Barca have been saved from being embarassed in this first half hour by Andre Ter Stegen.
0156 hrs IST: GOAL!! Julian Draxler scores in the 39th minute. They have been devastating on the counter with Draxler and Di Maria using their pace to catch out the Barca defence. Both of them are now on the score card. Draxler has already scored his fifth goal since his move, but this one has to be the special one for him.
0201 hrs IST: That’s half time!! PSG lead Barca by two goals to none. It has been a first half that few would have expected would pan out in this manner but it has. Only Neymar has been able to do anything meaningful with the ball as both Messi and Suarez have been pretty much anonymous in this first half. Can Luis Enrique inspire his side into performing the way we know them to in the second half?
0207 hrs IST: At Lisbon, its goalless at half time but that doesn’t tell the story of the match. Dortmund have been dominant and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang has had some very good chances thus far.
0217 hrs IST: The teams have come out. PSG have a spring in their steps while Barca have scowls on their faces. Barca immediately give away a free kick. Its not come to anything but the visitors had to do some more nervous defensive work before the danger was gone.
0222 hrs IST: Benfica have score in Lisbon, the home side have been dominant since the second half began and have been rewarded with a goal. Mitroglou is the man with the goal in the 48th minute. He headed in a lose ball that came off the keeper’s gloves from a free kick into the empty net.
0227 hrs IST: GOAL!! Di Maria (54′), an absolute belter!! PSG are not letting go of it and are pummeling the Barcelona defence. Di Maria got the ball some way outside the box at the end of another quick counter attack. He went for it and it curl into the top half of the net. Di Maria is reminding Barcelona what they used to face in El Clasico’s
0233 hrs IST: Angel Di Maria goes off to a standing ovation. The Argentine has scored two stunners to put PSG ahead and the man to replace him is Brazilian Lucas.
0241 hrs IST: Marco Verratti has come off for PSG as the midfielder had went down. Unai Emery does not take any chances and replaces him immediately. Verratti has been instrumental so far in keeping Iniesta and Messi at bay.
0243 hrs IST: GOAL!! Edinson Cavani (72′). Another counter attack and Cavan manages to get the ball with Pique, for a change unable to get to him in time. Cavani almost caressed the ball to Ter Stegen’s left and it goes into goal. This is turning out to be a dream night for PSG and a Parisian nightmare for the Catalan giants, who are now facing a real possibility of a Round of 16 exit from the Champions League.
0253 hrs IST: Barcelona’s attacking super powers have been completely undone. It has been a rare lacklustre performance from Messi who is now trying to work something out for Barcelona. They had the best chance of the match when Messi curled in a corner, Pique headed it to Umtiti whose header hit the cross bar. Just a reminder to PSG that they are facing Barcelona after all.
0258 hrs IST: The Parc des Princes rises once again as Julian Draxler is taken off. The German has had a dream European debut with PSG and is replaced by Javier Pastore.
0301 hrs IST: In Lisbon, Benfica have managed to maintain their one goal despite the number of chances Dortmund have had. This includes a penalty from Pierre Emerick Aubameyang that was saved by the home team goalkeeper.
0303 hrs IST: Barcelona got a free kick from just outside, almost from where Di Maria scored the first goal in the first half. Neymar was the man who took it and was unable to emulate the Argentine and hits it over. It has not been Barca’s night.
0306 hrs IST: It has ended and the score is, believe it or not, Paris St. Germain 4-0 Barcelona. The full time whistle also goes off at Lisbon with Benfica managing to hold off Borrusia Dortmund to win the first leg 1-0.