≡ Menu

Champions League: Valentine’s Day Massacre In Paris

Angel di Maria scored twice as Paris Saint-Germain ripped Barcelona to shreds in Paris, in a stunning team performance that left the Spanish champions shell-shocked and facing elimination from Europe at the last-16 stage.

Things started badly for Barcelona when Samuel Umititi upended Draxler on the edge of the area on 18 minutes and Di Maria stepped up to take the free-kick. It wasn’t his greatest, but it was enough to beat Suarez’ jump and fly past a static Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Draxler had won the free-kick and he would torment Barcelona for the rest of the half. His shot on 22 minutes almost crept in at Ter Stegen’s near post, with the German keeper having to bat it away for a corner.

Barcelona were chasing shadows as PSG pressed with all the intensity you would expect from one of Unai Emery’s teams and the Spanish coach had done his homework – Barça are weak down their right-hand side with Sergio Roberto, a midfielder, filling in at full-back, and that is where Draxler was doing most of the damage.

At the other end of the pitch Lionel Messi was largely anonymous. He hit one free-kick straight at the wall and was then caught in possession by Adrien Rabiot, who had not allowed an early booking to slow him down.

From Messi’s lapse came the second goal. Marco Verratti motored forward and released Draxler, who shot past Ter Stegen to give the home side a deserved 2-0 half-time lead.

Despite the first-half horror show from Barcelona, it was PSG that started the second 45 minutes as if their Champions League survival depended on it. Verratti, Rabiot and Blaise Matuidi continued to over-run Sergio Busquets and, on 55 minutes, Di Maria had his second.

Matuidi got away from Andre Gomes and fed Di Maria. He wriggled into space and curled the third goal into the top right-hand corner of Ter Stegen’s net. It was vintage Di Maria and it pushed Barcelona to the Champions League exit.

Barcelona were ripped wide open time and again in midfield and on one of those occasions Neymar was robbed by Thomas Meunier and he was allowed to roam forward and release Edinson Cavani who rifled his shot first-time past Ter Stegen.

The Barcelona inquest will start in earnest now. Under Luis Enrique they have relinquished the Pep Guardiola possession-based football that made them kings of Europe in 2009 and 2011.

It has not mattered up until now because the front three of Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar have been spectacular and justified the urge to the get ball forward as quickly as possible.

But critics have suggested Barcelona have become no more than their forward line and if a team was able to starve the supply then they would be in trouble. The trouble came at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday night.

Umtiti headed the ball on to the bar from a Gerard Pique assist but there was no away goal. Barcelona had been embarrassed by Emery’s high-intensity PSG machine and 90 minutes will not be enough to save their Champions League campaign, their season, and quite possibly their coach Luis Enrique.