It’s difficult to put into words the 90 minutes of football I have just watched. Going into any big match Barcelona almost always seem to find another gear, create a bit of magic and come away with a good result, even when they aren’t at their best. Tonight’s game was dreadful. It’s hard to describe it in more detail than that.
Barça started the game flat and the first goal came 18 minutes in from Ángel Di María, a wonderful free-kick that was helped by a defensive wall that left something to be desired. After going 1-0 down, it felt like another game where conceding a goal would make Luis Enrique’s men wake up. It didn’t.
The first half continued but Barcelona were still on a completely different planet, and not in a good way like we so often see. André Gomes had a half chance that he put into the side netting in a match where the Portuguese midfielder lacked any real quality once again.
Later on in the half Lionel Messi lost possession after pressing from Adrien Rabiot and all that Marco Verratti had to do was jog forward unchallenged, play a simple pass to Julian Draxler and it was 2-0.
Barcelona looked completely clueless, they failed to retain or circulate the ball, the midfield, as we have seen so often in recent months, was nowhere to be seen even with the return of Sergio Busquets and Andrés Iniesta,
Sergi Roberto was having an absolutely torrid time at right-back as Unai Emery clearly encouraged PSG to get at him to expose his clear defensive frailties, but it’s harsh to single out Roberto as it would be very difficult to give any player other than Neymar and Marc André Ter Stegen more than a five out of 10.
At half-time it already felt like Barça were looking for a miracle, but with the players in the squad hoping for a miracle isn’t as desperate as it might sound, but Barcelona continued their horrible performance into the second period.
10 minutes into the second half Di María found himself in shooting range after a move that started from goalkeeper Kevin Trapp and the Argentine curled a shot into the top corner. Once again Barcelona failed to put any pressure on the PSG attack and paid the price.
At 3-0 the only real positive could be getting an away goal and Luis Enrique looked to Rafinha to provide some inspiration from the bench, replacing Gomes, but he struggled to make an impact and it wasn’t long before PSG made it four.
Right back Thomas Meunier cleverly got past Neymar who seemed to be the only player even attempting to make a tackle in the build-up. The Belgian jogged through the Barcelona midfield with unbelievable ease, played a simple pass into Edinson Cavani who smashed his shot past Gerard Piqué’s attempted block and Ter Stegen’s attempted save.
Samuel Umtiti had a header hit the post in another of Barça’s few chances late on but even scoring one goal in this tie would have been very undeserved for Enrique’s men.
Barcelona have completed remuntada’s before, but overcoming a four-goal deficit is a massive ask even for a team with the stars that Barça have, and especially if they play anything like they did tonight.
It is inevitable that criticism is going to be everywhere after tonight’s result, and Enrique’s position at the club is a huge talking point at the moment. It seems unlikely that FCB president Josep Maria Bartomeu will relieve Enrique of his duties at this stage but the Asturian leaving when his contract expires in the summer seems almost certain.
Next up for Barça comes a league game at home to Leganés followed by an away trip to Atlético Madrid.