PLAYER RATINGS | PSG 2-3 Barcelona: Hosts undone by Raphinha double and defensive errors

Although the prospect of a Remontada rematch had dominated the build-up to tonight’s clash at the Parc des Princes, Luis Enrique’s reunion with former teammate Xavi emerged as an unexpectedly confrontational subplot.

Asked about which of the two coaches was a better representative of the Catalan style of play, the Asturian was unequivocal – “It’s me, no doubt about it. That’s not an opinion, look at the statistics”. The World Cup winner, meanwhile, took a more conciliatory approach to the question, as he emphasised the “Barça DNA” that links together half of this year’s quarter-finalists.

For most of the first half, though, it was Xavi who was making the better case for that title. Although PSG initially dominated possession, their forays into the Barcelona box were few and far between, and eventually the frailty of their makeshift defence was put to the test. 

While a Nuno Mendes goalline clearance initially kept them at bay, the Catalans eventually found a way through. Robert Lewandowski – whose tireless hold-up play kept the entire backline busy throughout the evening – shrugged off Beraldo to find the onrushing Lamine Yamal on the right, and Donnarumma could only get fingertips to the teenager’s cross, which whittled all the way over to Raphinha. Having been left unmarked – Marquinhos was still making his way back from further up the pitch – the Brazilian had a free hit to send a sweeping finish into an empty net. 

It was Luis Enrique, though, whose half-time tweaks proved the most effective, and within minutes of the restart the Ligue 1 leaders had turned the game around. With a shot that rifled into the roof of the net, Dembélé made up for his misfiring first half to equalise and open his European account for the campaign – against his former team, no less. Seconds later, Vitinha ventured into the box to convert from a Fabián Ruiz through ball.

The Blaugrana would be back ahead within minutes, though. With his first touch after coming on, Pedri found Raphinha over the top with a pin-point ball, and a first-time finish past Donnarumma gave the Brazilian his brace. While PSG looked more confident going forward – Dembélé notably came within inches of his own double – the Catalans would veer ahead again fifteen minutes later. It was a different goalscorer – Christensen nodding in from the corner – but the Italian goalkeeper was once again at fault, a total lack of authority in the box handing the Dane free header from close range.

Led by the excellent teenage defender Pau Cubarsí and Araújo, the visitors fended off any prospect of another turnaround. The introductions of Barcola and Warren Zaïre-Emery did add a more incisive edge to Luis Enrique’s side, but ultimately the Blaugrana were left untroubled. For all of Luis Enrique’s self-professed Barcelona DNA, it was his younger counterpart whose  made the difference tonight.

Les Parisiens now face a (literal) uphill battle at Montjuïc next week.

PSG player ratings

Gianluigi Donnarumma, 2 – The Italian turned in a nervy display, and was effectively at fault in all three goals. The former Milan man once again showed that, despite his shot-stopping heroics this season, PSG will need to seriously think about an upgrade in the near future if Luis Enrique is to fully implement the style of play he is aiming for.

Marquinhos, – For his record-breaking 436th Paris Saint-Germain appearance, the Brazilian turned in a mostly dependable shift at right-back, although he was beaten by Raphinha a couple of times. Switched places with Lucas Hernández in the second half.

Lucas Hernández, 4

Lucas Beraldo, 2 – Even during the hosts’ promising first 20 minutes, the Brazilian looked far from assured when Barcelona set off on the counter. The 20-year-old struggled to keep track of Robert Lewandowski – the Pole decisively winning their battle, not least on the break that led to the opening goal.

Nuno Mendes, 4

Kang-in Lee, 4

Fabián Ruiz, 5

Vitinha, 6 – Les Parisiens’ standout performer of the last few weeks retained the ball well in the first half, but his influence in attack was stunted by Barcelona’s midfield dominance. With the match opening up in the second half, he was able to venture forward more often, scoring PSG’s second and setting up Barcola and Dembélé for some late opportunities. 

Ousmane Dembélé, 6 – PSG’s most active player in the first half, even if his crosses were mostly wayward. A timely second goal of the campaign sparked a short-lived comeback, before he was denied a second goal by the post later in the game.

Marco Asensio, 4 – The Spaniard was a surprise inclusion in Luis Enrique’s starting eleven, seconding Mbappé and Dembélé on the PSG frontline. His substitution at half-time – for Bradley Barcola – was justified, having contributed little to his team’s attacks (11 touches), even accounting for the adverse circumstances.

Kylian Mbappé, 4 – The forward was heavily involved and kept Jules Koundé on his toes throughout the game – but it was his international teammate who won the majority of their duels. The France captain did keep the ball moving quickly when PSG went forward, but barely threatened in front of goal himself. A disappointing night, on what may have been his final Champions League night at the Parc des Princes as a PSG player.

Selected Barcelona player ratings

Raphinha, 8 

Robert Lewandowski, 7

Pau Cubarsí, 8 – The 17-year-old (!) was already a history-maker by virtue of his starting spot, but his impeccable positioning, long passing, and anticipation made for a statement performance on top of that. 

GFFN | Raphaël Jucobin  – from the Parc des Princes

More European Football News