PSG eclipsed Barcelona; Mbappé did the same to Messi
PSG made quite the statement at the Camp Nou against Barcelona. Up to now they’ve been seen as outsiders in the Champions League, interlopers seeking the respect of European football’s aristocracy. Before Tuesday night PSG had always eventually been found wanting, as the nouveau riche imposter. But last night they showed they can really do it. Pochettino has done well, of course, more so considering he was brought in during the Christmas holidays and has only been in the job for 40 days, at two games a week. Even so, he’s managed to construct a solid side and give his players belief and confidence. Yesterday’s match will not soon be forgotten.
Mbappé's hat-trick against Barcelona
The game was also a statement from Mbappé, who has not quite fulfilled the promise he showed when he broke onto the scene at Monaco. From there he went to PSG, thanks to slip up from Real Madrid’s Florentino Pérez, who had him in the palm of his hand, but didn’t want to move Bale (what a mistake, what a huge, huge mistake!). In Paris it looked like Mbappé might be rather lost in their ‘star system’, playing alongside the brilliant but capricious Neymar. But against Barcelona on Tuesday he showed just what a fantastic player he is, one of the outstanding footballers of a generation who signed off on his performance at the Camp Nou with three goals. Three magnificent goals too, particularly the first, where he didn’t rely on strength and speed, but rather his incredible skills in a reduced space.
The other story of the night was Messi. His attitude on these disastrous European nights does call into question his eye-watering income, and even more so the persistence of his supporters in calling him the greatest of all time. Once again he lacked the drive and leadership to pull his team out of the mud. In truth his contribution was to convert a penalty and one that was soft at best. The second leg still needs to be played of course, but not even winning 0-3 in Paris would Barcelona go through. The match left Barcelona in tatters, just as they were beginning to get their confidence back, and PSG finally deserve to be considered a big club among the biggest.