Lucas Moura exceeds expectations, but PSG fail to against Barcelona
Paris Saint-Germain bowed out of the Champions League last night after losing to Barcelona on away goals.
After a 2-2 draw in the first leg in Paris, Carlo Ancelotti’s side realistically needed to beat the Catalan giants at the Camp Nou in the return fixture, and if it wasn’t for Lionel Messi, they probably would have done.
After PSG took the lead through the impressive Javier Pastore early in the second half, Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova promptly introduced Messi, who came off the bench to galvanise the Spaniards. His neat dribble on the edge of the area led to Barcelona’s equaliser, scored by Pedro, a goal which ultimately sealed Barca’s passage into the semi-finals.
Despite Messi proving the difference between the two sides, PSG could and maybe should have had the game wrapped up by half time. Messi’s international teammate Ezequiel Lavezzi missed a great chance to score after being put through on goal.
Another South American Lucas Moura was again impressive for the Ligue 1 leaders. His explosive pace and power consistently saw him get the better of Spain’s international fullback Jordi Alba, who is widely regarded as the best left back in the world.
Since his move from Sao Paulo to PSG in the January transfer window, Moura has been a revelation, and even though he was highly rated and thought of in Paris, his performances have probably exceeded Ancelotti’s expectations. His fearless approach has seen him embarrass the world’s best defenders. He looks a real talent. He has everything – pace, strength, quality, goals, all the ingredients needed to be a top player.
So can PSG be happy with making it to the quarter-finals?
Although he might not admit it, Ancelotti will be pleasantly surprised as to how well his side has adapted to European football. The likes of Pastore, Moura and Thiago Silva have all excelled on the European stage. Argentine midfielder Pastore has excelled and Silva has been a rock at the back for PSG.
Considering how tough it has been for the likes of big-spending Manchester City to adapt to European football, it is testament to PSG and Ancelotti that they have managed to make it through to the quarter-finals of the competition, the first time the Parisiens have done so since 1995.
Along the way, they have beaten the likes of Porto, Valencia and more than held their own against a vastly experienced Barcelona side. They have power and resolve in defence, exemplified by the fact that last night they became the first team this season to stop Barcelona scoring in the first half of a match. As well as a solid back four, they have pace and class in attack. Ibrahimovic, Moura, Lavezzi – a trio capable of getting the better of any defence in European football.
Having got PSG to the quarter-finals, manager Ancelotti has proved he is the right man to harness the wealthy Qatari owners’ expectations and mould a team capable of consistently winning football matches. They sit handsomely at the top of Ligue 1 and will in all likelihood, be crowned champions in May.
To take PSG to the next level, they will need to strengthen in the centre of the park as well as up top, as their over reliance on Zlatan Ibrahimovic perhaps took its toll on the Swede, who failed to perform to his maximum in both games against his former team, Barcelona.
With their resources and the calm head of Ancelotti at the helm, PSG are only going to get stronger, and next season, they will be even better equipped to challenge for the Champions League title.Tagged in: Barcelona, Champions League, football, PSG
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