As “Ici c’est Paris”, the three words proudly displayed all over Parc des Princes, was chanted loudly in the sold-out stadium, images of FC Barcelona players talking to former teammate, Ibrahimovic were displayed throughout. Despite the ‘friendly’ disguise, everyone was fully aware that the amicable smiles would disappear the moment the players stepped onto the pitch. And it did…Ibra looking to make a memorable debut, while Barça was looking to do what they always do, shut down their opponents.
With the crowd excited for the new and improved PSG squad, they made sure that FC Barcelona were aware of where they were – with constant chanting, the mood was set for the PSG-FC Barcelona showdown. But as many have become accustomed to, Barça simultaneously ensured that PSG wouldn’t have much possession of the ball, easily noticed when watching the game which barely seemed to make its way into the PSG half, and when it did, was quickly shutdown by the Barça defense. Perhaps not the most exciting game, fans once again had the chance to witness just what tiki taka should look like when it’s done right. And it seems that Tito shouldn’t have much to worry about, considering the fact that the game seemed to flow for Barcelona, regardless of which selection of players were on the field. It was after all this swift and tricky movement of the ball that led to Barcelona’s first goal in the 7th minute by youngster, Rafinha, following a brilliant pass from Alexis.
After all the hype of Ibra’s first game for PSG, one would certainly have expected a better display from the former AC Milan player. Constantly flanked by FCB defenders, it seemed a lacklustre performance. As for meshing with the team, one must admit that after some more time together, PSG may very well have the chance to grab Champions League glory this season. Add to that the fact that PSG faced one of the best teams in the world, and his chances for a dazzling debut slowly start to fizzle. Then again, as a preseason friendly, it may not be fair to judge his performance, and perhaps the penalty kick, taken by Ibra, that put PSG back in the game was all he was destined to do on this night. Admittedly, as his first goal with a new team, everyone, even those who dislike his strong character, would hope for a spectacular goal. The PSG fans didn’t seem to mind that his first would be through a penalty kick, as celebrations erupted the second the ball hit the back of the net. Ici c’est Paris!
Ancelotti’s side seemed to lack one thing during the game – a solid defense. Repeatedly having the ball taken away by Barça players, in what seemed effortless displays, the only concern for the French side is stepping up their defensive play. As stated by Maxwell, it was hard for fans and players alike to repeatedly see the ball slip away during the first half. The second half saw a slightly stronger PSG emerge from the locker rooms, as they sought to equalize. And they did, following a smart offensive play by PSG that seemed to find the only hole in the Barcelona defense.
For many, a few words come to mind when the words FC Barcelona are spoken; Messi, Villa, tiki taka and of course, diving. The Trophée de Paris 2012 did not lack that infamous Barcelona fake diving skills as Sanchez went down early in the second half in what was clearly a bogus claim. Upon replay, it is clear that the PSG defense didn’t even come close to touching him, but as per usual, the referee seemed to think otherwise. PSG fans were outraged and as Messi prepared to take the penalty kick, the volume in the stadium kept increasing. One must wonder, will karma ever come back to FCB for all the calls made in their favor, when other teams, including PSG, never seem to enjoy that liberty?
Another former FCB player, Maxwell praised Ibra’s debut and further added that he may just be the missing link in the PSG squad. Confident for the new season, the Brazilian stated that PSG would seek Champions League glory, and wouldn’t accept any less. When asked about PSG’s weakness, defense immediately came up – adding that Ancelotti will spend most of his time on this element, as it was clearly displayed as the Parisian weakness during the match.
Whether a friendly or not, both Tito and Ancelotti now have an even deeper knowledge of what needs to be done to make this season a successful one. PSG fans all responded in the same manner, a FC Barcelona – PSG final in the Champions League would be a dream come true! Of course, they all seem to believe that PSG will be victorious this year. Only time will tell if Ancelotti and the newly improved Parisian-side will prove a real threat for Blaugrana…
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