Paris St-Germain 2-3 Barcelona: Raphinha outshines Kylian Mbappe as youngsters break records

Home » Paris St-Germain 2-3 Barcelona: Raphinha outshines Kylian Mbappe as youngsters break records

The first legs of the Champions League quarter-finals have delivered.

And, none more so than Barcelona’s trip to Paris St-Germain as the five-time winners came from behind to earn a 3-2 victory before next Tuesday’s second leg.

Former Leeds winger Raphinha shone in Paris, as Kylian Mbappe failed to impress.

There were also some record-breaking teenagers in Barcelona’s side, who showed brilliant resolve in the face of a hostile Parisian crowd when they were trailing.

‘First-class’ Raphinha delivers

Brazil winger Raphinha had never scored in the Champions League before Wednesday’s tie in Paris, but you wouldn’t have known it with the quality of his finishes.

For his opener, he capitalised on a mistake from Gianluigi Donnarumma to sweep home a loose ball.

His second, which pulled Barcelona back level, showed superb skill as he watched Pedri’s clipped pass come over his shoulder before he volleyed home with the outside of his left foot.

“I thought Raphinha was first class,” said 2007 Champions League runner-up Peter Crouch on TNT Sports. “There was so much to admire technically about his second goal.”

Barcelona boss Xavi told TNT Sports: “Raphinha and Robert Lewandowski made the difference and Pedri helped us a lot. I’m very happy and very proud of the team.”

The 27-year-old was a danger throughout and had the most shots (six), shots on target (four) and touches in the opposition box (six) for Barcelona.

He won man of the match and told “These last few weeks, we’ve been working very hard in training. To come here and to return home with a win is pretty positive I’d say. Winning is important, but this tie is nowhere near finished.”

‘Mbappe can’t be as bad again?’

On the opposite side was Mbappe. A World Cup winner and runner-up with France, who was third in last year’s Ballon d’Or.

The Champions League is one trophy that has so far deserted the 25-year-old, though.

This season represents his final chance to win the trophy for PSG too, with the forward set to leave and join Real Madrid on a free transfer this summer.

His cut-back from the byeline enabled PSG to equalise after a poor clearance, but he was, on the whole, well-handled by the Barcelona defence.

He was restricted to just three shots, none of which were on target, and had the fewest touches of any outfield PSG player to play the full game (44).

“The best player in the world, Kylian Mbappe, didn’t perform today and when he doesn’t perform then invariably PSG don’t perform,” said 2008 Champions League winner Rio Ferdinand on TNT Sports.

“He can’t be as bad again [in the second leg]. There is no concern about him freezing on the big stage, it is normally when he comes alive. If he decides to turn it on, then he is the guy that can take them through.”

Ferdinand added that PSG will have to show a “much better version of themselves” in next Tuesday’s second leg, but there is “more in the tank”.

Barca youngsters break Champions League records

Barcelona’s side has some experienced heads in 35-year-old Poland striker Robert Lewandowski and 33-year-old Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan but there is plenty of youth too.

They made history with Spanish winger Lamine Yamal (16 years and 272 days) and defender Pau Cubarsi (17 years and 79 days) becoming the youngest players to feature in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Defenders Jules Kounde and Ronald Araujo are both 25, while 21-year-old Pedri was joined by 20-year-old Fermin Lopez off the bench.

They could have easily been overawed by the barrage of PSG pressure their side were under when they were introduced but they turned the game on its head.

“The young kids were tremendous,” said Ferdinand.

“They were carried at times by the experience but sometimes you need that fearless of Cubarsi and Yamal.

“If you think what we were doing at 16 or 17 there was no way we could have gone in and performed at that level, with that kind of energy, aura and chest out to say ‘I’m meant to be here’.”

Xavi said the club have to be “proud” of their youngsters, adding: “They have more commitment with the team. I’m happy because it’s a new Barca but we’re in a good way.”

Barcelona are playing at this stage of the tournament for the first time since 2020 and have only reached the last four in one of their past five attempts.

They might need the know-how of the experienced players and fearlessness of youth to make it two from six next week.

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