The first leg of the Round of 16 of the 2016/2017 UEFA Champions League started last night. Unai Emery’s Paris Saint-Germain crushed the five times UEFA Champions League winners, FC Barcelona, before a packed Parc des Princes. It is a huge advantage for the French champions ahead of the second leg.
Unai Emery picked a strong an solid starting eleven, which included the recently signed German winger Julian Draxler. Two players were missing Paris Saint-Germain’s clash against FC Barcelona with Thiago Motta being suspended and captain Thiago Silva will be out due to a muscular injury. Marquinhos replaced Thiago Silva as centre-back.
Paris Saint-Germain | S-XI: Trapp, Kimpembe, Marquinhos, Verratti, Cavani, Di Maria, Meunier, Matuidi (C), Kurzawa, Draxler, Rabiot. Substitutes: Areola, Lucas, Pastore, Maxwell, Aurier, Ben Arfa, Nkunku.
Luis Enrique had picked an expected starting eleven ahead of the clash with Paris Saint-Germain. Marc-André Ter Stegen started in the goal. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar Jr started as well. Three players missed FC Barcelona’s first leg of the Round of 16 againsg Paris Saint-Germain, Turkey international Arda Turan is out due to a groin injury, Argentina international Javier Mascherano will be absent due to a hamstring injury and Aleix Vidal is out due to an ankle injury. André Gomes and Sergi Roberto started instead.
FC Barcelona | S-XI: Ter Stegen, Pique, Sergio, Iniesta (C), Suarez, Messi, Neymar Jr, Alba, S. Roberto, A. Gomes, Umtiti. Substitutes: Cillessen, Rakitic, Denis, Rafinha, Alcacer, Dignes, Mathieu.
Paris Saint-Germain opened the match and first half much stronger, being disciplined defensively and relying on effective and direct counterattacks. FC Barcelona looked like the could match them but as the first half progressed the French champions Paris Saint-Germain got better and better. In the 17th minute, the Germany international Julian Draxler was fouled just outside the FC Barcelona penalty-box, which was awarded with a free-kick in a very good position. Birthday boy, on Valentine’s day, and former Real Madrid star Angel Di Maria stepped up and scored beautifully from that free-kick in the 18th minute. After the goal, Paris Saint-Germain dropped back a little but they were looking to hit FC Barcelona hard on the highly effective, dangerous counterattacks. In the 40th minute, Italy international Marco Verratti found, with a great pass, Julian Draxler who made no mistake and smashed the ball, putting it in the back of the net, making it two goals to nothing for Paris Saint-Germain. Nothing more happended in the first half, which ended Paris Saint-German 2, FC Barcelona 0.
The French side, Paris Saint-Germain, opened the second half even better, stronger than the first half. Defensive midfielder, Adrien Rabiot, put an immense pressure on the FC Barcelona players. Argentina international Angel Di Maria had a magical night as he drove the ball brilliantly and scored his second goal of the night in 55th minute, with a shot from just outside the FC Barcelona penalty-box. The way Unai Emery’s players performed, they looked even more hungry and wanted to score more goals. Another birthday boy on Valentine’s day, Edison Cavani, got his goal in the 72nd minute after a brilliant assist by Thomas Meunier. FC Barcelona best chance in the match, was when Ivan Rakitic’s well-taken corner-kick found Gerard Pique’s head who directed the ball to Samuel Umtiti whose header hit the post in the 84th minute. It was a horrible night for the five times UEFA Champions League winners FC Barcelona as the match ended and second half ended Paris Saint-Germain 4, FC Barcelona 0.
It was a highly entertaining and intensive match as Paris Saint-Germain hammered FC Barcelona at Parc des Princes.
Paris Saint-Germain put a high pressure on the visitors, being defensively solid and effective in the counterattacks.
FC Barcelona dominated the possession but weren’t effective at all in their attacking performance and defensively shaky.
It is a big advantage for Unai Emery’s Paris Saint-Germain, who are now clear favourites to reach the quarter-finals.
The second leg of the Round of 16 between FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain will take place on March 8 at Camp Nou.
Paris Saint-Germain: Trapp – 4, Kimpembe – 3.5, Marquinhos – 4, Verratti – 4, Cavani – 4.5, Di Maria – 5, Meunier – 4, Matuidi – 4.5, Kurzawa – 3, Draxler – 4.5, Rabiot – 5. | Substitutes: Lucas – 4, Nkunku – 3.5, Pastore – 3.
FC Barcelona: Ter Stegen – 2, Pique – 3, Sergio – 2.5, Iniesta – 3, Suarez – 2, Messi – 2, Neymar Jr – 3, Alba – 2, S. Roberto – 2, A. Gomes – 1, Umtiti – 3.5. | Substitutes: Rafinha – 2, Rakitic – 3.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Adrien Rabiot (Paris Saint-Germain)