This was Unai Emery’s second win against Barcelona as a coach in 24 attempts.
Angel Di Maria struck twice; Julian Draxler and an in-form Edinson Cavani scored one each to dismantle Louis Enrique’s Barcelona. Being out in the January cold jolted di Maria into action.
From all the players, only Neymar was a little more energetic, but it didn’t help too much. The position seemed ideal for Di Maria’s left foot and his subsequent shot, lifted over the wall past a motionless Ter Stegen, proved the impression correct.
One Neymar acceleration did lead to an Andre Gomes shot that was turned behind by Kevin Trapp, but otherwise the chances were at the other end. But PSG continued to press and, five minutes from half-time, they had their second.
But nights like Tuesday are precisely why PSG shelled out the money to get Di Maria.
“That is 20 times greater so four times 20 is 80”. If anything, the two first half goals emboldened them and once they saw Barça recoil, they attacked.
It leaves Enrique’s side on the verge of failing to reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 2007, when they were beaten on away goals in the first knockout round by a Craig Bellamy inspired Liverpool.
The body language of numerous players and the decision to drop Ivan Rakitic has made many suggest not all is well in the Barcelona dressing room.
The host also defended perfectly, with centre-back Presnel Kimpembe deputising superbly on his Champions League debut for injured captain Thiago Silva as PSG claimed a deserved victory.
There was pre-match debate as to whether Di Maria would start or whether Lucas would get the nod on the PSG right. His goal, superbly taken, came after the pair had switched sides and their ability to shapeshift confounded Barcelona repeatedly.
The second leg is scheduled to be held at March 8 at Camp Nou, and a better response is to be expected from the Spanish giants if, they are to overcome such a mammoth score line.
“It will be very hard to prepare for the return match, with a four-goal deficit”. But on this occasion they offered nothing. Their malaise was epitomised by the move for Draxler’s goal.
Led by the indefatigable running of midfielders Marco Verratti and Blaise Matuidi, and the craft of Adrien Rabiot, PSG closed down incessantly and caused havoc down both flanks.
Di Maria warned of his team-mates over celebrating ahead of the second leg, saying the tie was not over.
“Such results have ramifications”, manager Luis Enrique said after the game.
PSG back Thomas Meunier said di Maria hated being on the bench and hailed di Maria’s game against Bordeaux as “an Angel who has gone through a metamorphosis”.
PSG correspondent Jonathan Johnson shares his thoughts on the “historic” night at the Parc des Princes. “Paris played at a spectacular level”.