Thursday 27 April 2017

Five things we learned from PSG's Champions League demolition job on Barca

PSG's Julian Draxler, left, celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's second goal
PSG's Julian Draxler, left, celebrates with teammates after scoring his team's second goal

Paris St Germain inflicted a bruising 4-0 defeat on Barcelona at the Parc des Princes, leaving one of the favourites for Champions League glory facing a last-16 exit.

Here is a look at five things we learned from 90 thrilling minutes.

PSG ARE CONTENDERS

Of the four teams in Champions League action on Tuesday, the Ligue 1 leaders are the only ones who have never been champions of Europe. After this performance - a stunning statement of intent over one of the world's most decorated playing groups - that could be about to change. They certainly have the requisite quality from front to back and their sharp, incisive attacking performance will have created furrowed brows and furious note-taking from visiting scouts. With Thiago Silva and Thiago Motta due back, they can get stronger too.

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HARD QUESTIONS FOR BARCA

Ninety bad minutes do not erase a career of wonderful work, with harsh conclusions often made in haste and lamented at leisure, but significant soul-searching is likely to follow at the Nou Camp. Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi turned in some of their shoddiest performances on record, but more serious doubts exist over Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and Gerard Pique.

PSG at times seemed too mobile, too energetic and too intense for the trio who have been at the nerve centre during Barca's best days. How long they can continue in key roles is now open to debate after they were so ruthlessly exposed at the top level.

UNAI EMERY IS A CUP KING

PSG have dominated Ligue 1 with an iron first in recent years, but currently trail Monaco by three points. That is not ideal for their manager Unai Emery, but when he was recruited from Sevilla it was on the basis of his cup success at Sevilla. Three years in a row he brought the Europa League to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan (2014, 2015, 2016) and navigating his way through knockout football is clearly one of his skills. Some managers have a feel for the cup competition and Emery's CV tells a compelling picture.

DRAXLER HAS THE STAGE TO EXCEL

Angel Di Maria and Edinson Cavani both turned in impressive performances and will be key to PSG's prospects should they reach the latter stages of the competition. But both men are closer to the end of their story than the start and have already done much to secure their legacy. Julian Draxler, at 23, remains an open book.

Long touted as one of German football's next big things, he had a messy end to his time at Wolfsburg and has not stamped his authority on the international stage as many expected. His relentless badgering on the Barca flanks, not to mention a neat goal, hinted at his depth of talent and at PSG he has a chance to become a serial winner. It is a move that could be the making of him.

FRENCH FUTURE IS BRIGHT

This was a good night to be France coach Didier Deschamps. Uncapped defender Presnel Kimpembe stood tall and impressed on his Champions League debut, Layvin Kurzawa looked disciplined and athletic and Adrien Rabiot was an all-action star in midfield. The trio are all 24 or younger and are at the very start of their international careers. More performances like this and they will be knocking hard on Deschamps' door for further attention.

Press Association

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