Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Paris with Spine

After Barcelona defeated PSG in Paris last week I must admit that I thought that PSG would be out yet again against Barcelona in the Champions League.

How great it is to be wrong.

When Raphinha brought the home team ahead 1-0 after a great play by the only 16-year old Lamine Yamal, one thought that it was done. But PSG pressed on, and after half an hour Ronald Araujo received a red card in a situation that may have been controversial: Araujo brought down Bradley Barcola as he was running towards goal, and the referee assessed he was last man and sent him off.

No VAR or anything can make it clear whether it was in fact a clear red. In my personal opinion it was justified, but I also understand those who argue that it was not.

The fact was that it changed the match as Xavi took off Yamal and his team stood back as PSG did the only thing they could, which was to push forward, and five minutes before half-time Ousmane Dembele equalized against his old team in a good counter attack.

Although they were only 10 men, in my view Barcelona looked too passive against a PSG side that obviously pushed forward, but did not look awesome. In fact, when Vitinha scored a second for PSG on a good long-shot, Barcelona's defense looked passive as they should have known about the Portuguese good long-shot skill. Later, a penalty against Dembele (in my view a correct call as well) brought PSG ahead 1-3 by Mbappe, and as the match was nearing its end Barcelona appeared completely torn apart when Mbappe scored his second following an attack where only Ter Stegen looked decent.

1-4 for PSG and they are yet again in the semifinal they were last in in 2021. They do not look unbeatable but are probably slight favourites against Borussia Dortmund, who defeated Atletico Madrid 4-2 at home, and are in their first CL semifinals since 2013.

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