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Disastrous Barcelona take a beating



Barcelona suffered one of their most humiliating defeats in Champions League history with a 4-0 thumping at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain in their Round of 16 first leg on Tuesday night at the Parc des Princes in Paris.
The Catalonians now need a miracle to advance to the quarter-finals when the teams meet in the return leg on March 8. If not, it will be Barcelona's earliest exit from the Champions League since their Round of 16 elimination in the 2006-07 tournament to Liverpool.
The lopsided loss evoked memories of Barcelona's 4-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the 2012-13 Champions League semifinal first leg. Like that night in Germany, Barcelona were out-played from start to finish and could not equal the desire and energy exhibited by their French opponents, who delivered a performance for the ages.



With the exception of Neymar and goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, it was a forgettable night for the visitors, and manager Luis Enrique could have never foreseen that when he posted the strongest starting XI he had available.
It was a dream first-half for PSG boss Unai Emery. The French side played at a high tempo from the start, but did so in an intelligent, patient manner by choosing the right moment to pressure the ball.
The hosts played with more dynamism and attacked in numbers, while Barcelona were slow and failed to match PSG's energy. Both Edinson Cavani and Blaise Matuidi issued warnings inside the first 15 minutes that it could be a long night for Barcelona, and those fears grew for Luis Enrique when Angel di Maria curled in an exquisite free kick from 21 metres out to give PSG a 1-0 lead.




Seemingly the only man playing with a purpose for Barcelona was Neymar. A lung-busting foray forward from the Brazilian should have ended in an equaliser, but the chance was spoiled by a poor finish from Andre Gomes.
Barcelona tried to work themselves into the match by playing their possession-based football, but they still left themselves vulnerable on the counter. Full-backs Jordi Alba and Sergi Roberto were pushed up high and PSG were more than happy to take advantage of acres of space when on the counter.
PSG's high tempo continued to get the better of the listless Catalonians and the visitors' night grew even worse when Lionel Messi was dispossessed at midfield and Julian Draxler capped a quick PSG break by rocketing a right-footer past Ter Stegen to make it 2-0.
There was no reaction from Barcelona to start the second-half. Even the sure-footed Messi and Andres Iniesta were careless in possession and imprecise in their passing.
Meanwhile, PSG were still brimming with confidence, none more so than Di Maria, and the Argentine struck again in the early stages of the second stanza with another curling left-footer that Ter Stegen never had a chance to stop. It was 3-0 to PSG, and suddenly even before the hour mark, an early Champions League exit was staring Barcelona in the face.



With a half-hour remaining, it was imperative for Barcelona to get a goal if they had any realistic designs of winning the tie. Luis Enrique brought on Rafinha, while Emery countered by switching Di Maria off for Lucas Moura. Still, Messi hardly ever received the ball in a dangerous position, while Luis Suarez was nowhere to be found.
To their credit, PSG did not bunker in. The French still fancied getting themselves a fourth goal. One of the most impressive members of the PSG team on the night was Thomas Meunier, and with the Barcelona midfield and defence offering no resistance, the towering full-back charged into the Barcelona half before dishing to Cavani who finished with aplomb to give PSG an astounding 4-0 advantage.
There was no let up from PSG. They continued to attack in numbers, bombarding the Barcelona defence with 3-on-2, 4-on-2 or 5-on-3 breakaways. By the end, Emery's men could have easily chalked up another two or three goals if only their final touch had been better.



For Barcelona, there would be no consolation goal -- an Umitti header off the post late on was their closest chance -- and the body language of Luis Enrique and his players spoke volumes as they trudged off the pitch at the final whistle on the wrong end of one of the most shocking results in recent Champions League history.
Barcelona will look to begin to pick up the pieces when they return to La Liga action on Sunday at home versus Leganes.
Match Sheet:
4.- Paris Saint-Germain: Trapp; Meunier, Marquinhos, Kimpembe, Kurzawa; Rabiot, Verratti (Nkunku, min. 69), Matuidi; Di Maria (Lucas Moura, min. 61), Draxler (Pastore, min. 87), Cavani.
0.- FC Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Busquets, Andre Gomes (Rafinha, min. 59), Iniesta (Rakitic, min. 71); Messi, Suarez, Neymar.
Goals: 1-0, min. 18: Di Maria; 1-0, min. 40: Draxler; 3-0, min. 55: Di Maria; 4-0, min. 71: Cavani
Referee: Szymon Marciniak (Poland). Yellow Cards: Rabiot (Min. 3) for Paris Saint-Germain, Andre Gomes (Min. 33) for Barcelona, Busquets (Min. 63) for Barcelona, Rafinha (Min. 74) for Barcelona
Stadium: Parc des Princes
Attendance: 48,583

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