Barcelona thumped at the Parc des Princes
The Champions League last 16 began with a bang, with Barcelona crushed in Paris. Despite the negative symptoms they'd been presenting - heavily dependent on the three up front and flimsy in midfield - you could never have expected something quite like this. Paris Saint-Germain looked like a construction finally complete under Unai Emery, set up around a superb Adrien Rabiot and with players who were energetic, poised, technical, well organised and worked for each other. With Sergio Busquets and Andrés Iniesta far from their best nick and André Gomes exasperating, Barça had nothing in the middle. And this time nothing up front either, except for Neymar, who it can pretty much be said played against 11 on his own. Leo Messi gave his worst display in a Barça shirt.
Rout reflected gulf between sides
It was a kind of 'Saint Valentine's Day Massacre': Barcelona pinned up against the wall and utterly gunned down. With no protection from the midfield, the visiting defence were left to fight a losing struggle against the incessant forward forays of a PSG side who time and again crossed the middle of the park as if there were no-one else there. One after the other, the goals came in a steady stream as a consequence of the hosts' constant superiority and non-stop wave of patient, well-constructed attacks. The 4-0 scoreline is a fair reflection of the gulf between the two teams on the night, leaves Los Azulgranas on the brink - and in one fell swoop lifts PSG to the status of bona fide contenders for the title. A glorious night for Emery.
Tough test awaits Real Madrid tonight
Tonight, the Bernabéu will be awash with pre-match comments, but Real Madrid would be advised not to let this distract them too much. They face a battle of their own against a Napoli outfit who come into the clash brimming with confidence and on a run of 18 games without defeat. A couple of familiar faces return to Madrid in Raúl Albiol and José Callejón, two fine players in a team that also boasts the likes of Marek Hamsik and Dries Mertens in attack, both major danger men alongside the Spanish forward. Zinedine Zidane recovers his first-choice midfield of Luka Modric, Casemiro and Toni Kroos, who he'll supplement with Isco or Lucas Vázquez. Up top, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo. In the directors' box, Maradona. And in the stands a crowd that'll be buzzing from the word go.