Kylian Mbappé had more focuses than ever on his figure. The French star assumed the game without his inseparable Neymar and Di María, to the point that PSG’s favoritism had been put into question by the absences. It was a day to step up and show the world that he is ready to fight to inherit the world title that for a time has been shared between Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The ‘7’ gave the stature, he was the king of the match, he scored three goals (only Faustino Asprilla and Shevchenko did it against the Blaugranas in Europe) and completely changed Barcelona on both fields of play. His performance gives his team a huge advantage for the lap. And he did it without his more advanced companions. It was Mbappé’s night. An exhibition at the height of the character. Unchained.
Within seconds of the opening whistle, PSG already made their intentions clear. A long ball to the Frenchman’s run was cleared in a hurry by Ter Stegen. Koeman had lined up Piqué and Dest, both recently recovered from their injuries and far from their best form.. The technician was aware of the risk he was taking, although he preferred the gallons of these to trying other formulas such as Mingueza’s entry. Also aware of Mbappé’s potential, he drew up a plan against him. The idea was that the American side did not separate from him, even touching the individual marking. At first it worked, but the passing of the minutes led Mbappé to read the circumstances of the game, a cross for Barça.
The Frenchman began to get inside and look for the auction. As Dest was awarded his personal defense, the lane was freer for Kurzawa’s internships. Thus the goal arrived. The winger put the ball into the area, Verratti directed him towards Mbappé and he defined Clement Lenglet after an exquisite dribble on a tile and an unstoppable hit. Before all, he had already done to move downtown so that his bandmate took a step forward. This one, comfortable, did not have so much load behind, since Dest himself hardly disturbed the rival field. He already had a defensive task and preferred to contain himself so as not to leave spaces.
Dembélé was in charge of giving Dest oxygen balloon. He didn’t do it or he was too late. He is not used to working so much and he did not read that the duel required it. Even Griezmann, placed on the left wing, threw a cable at the insistence. Pochettino put on his boots in the intermission. If PSG had already insisted on that lane in the first, the coach’s order was to make it even more common after the break. Mbappé received in three quarters and terror reigned in the Blaugrana defense. Aids were arriving, leaving more space for the rest of the attack. Kean came close to scoring after he and Icardi had more freedom than expected.
Already in the first half something similar happened. Pedri lost the ball. Mbappé received it. There was a crowd of Barcelona players around him and only Icardi accompanied him. But he was scary and everyone was looking at him. His filtered pass was fantastic and Pedri himself saved under sticks after a shot bit by PSG’s offensive reference. First symptom that Barça made waters when the ‘7’ received with space and freedom. The data, this time, did not deceive: since he arrived at PSG, no one manufactures as many goals on the counterattack as he. Today, yes, it was a day to also shine in the static. And Mbappé responded.
The Second and Dest’s Despair
His impeccable performance was missing another goal. It came in a different way to the dynamics of the party. A long shipment on Florenzi ended up in the center of this to the heart of the area. I hammered it out with difficulties and the omnipresent Mbappé was also for the rejection. Dest, again, followed him very closely, but the ball cleared by Piqué fell to the attacker’s feet. He shot at pleasure and set off the alarms. The game was going to Barça.
Koeman looked at the bench and found Mingueza. It was option B in case Dest didn’t show up. He risked with the American, but he redone his decision when he saw that Mbappé lived with such comfort. Before the substitution, another blow came. Kean finished off a free kick and made it 1-3. Thus a change of dynamics took place: Barça had to take risks and establish themselves in the attacking field of PSG so as not to say goodbye to the round of 16. Since then, the French star participated less, because his team no longer commanded the game. Nor did he need to receive every second to do what he does best: score.
Draxler led a three-for-two kickback. It attracted the defenders and waited for the right moment to present it to the visiting hero. It was his night. He was able to define low, controlling, with time. But he chose to place the ball in the squad. A coup of authority for posterity. Capital display and hat-trick. He takes the ball home and praises the world football scene. His first triplet in the Champions League was on the appointed day.
The defensive work of Mbappé
Pochettino had to release his star, more with the absences of Neymar or Di María. An exaggerated defensive effort would have prevented him from riding freely in the transitions, despite the fact that the demands of the party demanded lending a hand. The Argentine coach solved it with a kind of defensive 4-5-1, with Kean and Mbappé closing spaces and Icardi as an annoyance at the ball exit. Beyond that, his full influence on the attack tied Dest and Dembélé hand and foot. The winger had no bellows for his explosiveness in attack and defense. The winger ran back more than usual, something that limited him in his specialty.
The comparison with Messi: day and night
Another of the men who had all eyes on him is Leo Messi. The Argentine, on the other hand, was especially imprecise. He scored the Barcelona goal from the penalty spot. When his team was not working in attack, he went down to the core to distribute and look for alternatives. It did not give him the fluidity that the party demanded. His teammates in the center of the field were surpassed by Verratti and Paredes, excellent. As the minutes passed, the local ’10’ lost steam and participation. The plan did not go according to plan and Messi did not assume a leading role either. Like the rest of the staff, he looked serious and with a disgruntled expression. He barely stepped on the area. He only won three duels out of nine and did two dribbles. Insufficient seeing the adversary.
Javier Miguel, author of the analysis of the performance of each Barcelona player tonight in AS, saw Messi’s game like this: “From today the PSG sheikh will think much more when someone advises him to change Messi for Mbappé. Leo’s game has been the one of the last big events in the Champions League, with little presence, without success and with an increasingly disconcerted face. Let’s hope it is not his Blaugrana epilogue in the Champions League because it would be too sad to do it. He scored a penalty and little else. ” Mbappé clearly surpassed him, just as PSG did with their rival.