Who said What: Managers, players and pundits react to PSG’s 4-0 win against Barcelona
Paris Saint-Germain pulled up a massive shock win against 2015 Champions League winners Barcelona, as they ran out victors, putting four past the Catalan giants in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 round. Angel di Maria put a man of the match performance as he scored two sublime goals, the first from a free-kick just outside the box and the second a left-footed curling effort into the top corner.
Edinson Cavani and Julian Draxler rounded up the scoring, against a very poor Barcelona team who just failed to turn up on the night. Barcelona’s star attacking trio of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar all had very poor games, as they couldn’t cope with the physical style of PSG’s midfield trio of Marco Verratti, Blaise Matuidi and Adrien Rabiot.
Barcelona’s manager, Luis Enrique was clearly disappointed and agitated after the heavy loss, to the extent that he told TV3 Reporter Jordi Grau, “I don't like your tone and I would have liked the same treatment all the times we have won that I am getting tonight when we haven't”, as he walked away from the interviewer.
Jordi Grau, stuck in a tight spot, conceded, “[Luis Enrique] seems to be very upset, but we can't understand what he means when he talks about our treatment since in victory, almost always, and when the team loses, our treatment toward him has been consistent”.
But, Luis Enrique appeared for the post-match press conference, where he admitted, “It was a disastrous game”. Not mincing his words, he continued, “It's not difficult to explain. PSG were better than us from the start. They overcame our pressure and they were better with and without the ball. We were clearly inferior”.
Taking the pressure off his players, he added, “I'm responsible for this so don't look for anyone else to blame. The responsibility falls solely on me. These players have given us a lot of joy.” However the former Roma manager wasn’t ready to concede defeat yet, “There's half the tie to go and I won't lose hope, even though it will take a heroic comeback, why not dream?”
Sergio Busquets who played at the heart of the Barcelona midfield blamed tactics, and the physical fitness of the Catalan giants. He said, “They (PSG) played much better than us and they overwhelmed us physically, they pressed us harder, they were much better tactically than us, they had a plan and executed it how they wanted to and they were the better team”.
Pundit and former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand was especially critical of Lionel Messi’s performance during the tie, “His reaction there was poor, all night he was sloppy. He looked dejected and bereft of ideas, [but] he's human.”
Fellow England international and former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard also agreed with the assessment, adding “He showed zero effort. No reaction all night”.
On the flip side, under pressure PSG manager Unai Emery was obviously happy, but is not taking anything for granted in the second leg, “It is a great motivation to play against Barcelona, and a difficulty," he told Marca. "The game leaves a good taste in the mouth, but you have to be careful because we have 90 minutes to play”.
Asked if PSG will change their tactics for the second leg, he promptly replied, “I'm very cautious with the next game. We have to try to continue in the same way.”
Birthday boy Edinson Cavani who scored the fourth goal for the side from France, speaking after the game reiterated the speciality of the occasion, “For four seasons I have been in Paris and we have played some great matches, but this victory has a rather special flavour because of the meaning of this day for me”.
Centre-back Marquinhos who kept Luis Suarez in his pocket all throughout the tie spoke about the team’s tactics, but is not taking anything for granted in the second leg of the tie, “We are a young but solid team. We knew how to squeeze them, how to be well positioned with the low block, and we knew how to take advantage of our opportunities. Everyone is super happy.
“We must keep our feet on the ground, work well and prepare because we know that Barca are a formidable team at Camp Nou. We will have to suffer, defend and attack together”, he continued.
On Twitter, journalists, former players and pundits got into the act as well.
Published 15 Feb 2017, 10:45 IST