Alexi Lalas: Don’t blame Barcelona, give PSG credit instead

Paris Saint-Germain stunned Barcelona, 4-0, in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie. Nobody could believe that Barcelona looked as bad as they did and while the spotlight was put on the Catalans, Alexi Lalas said that it had less to do with them and more to do with how good PSG were.

This was not a smash and grab. This wasn’t a situation where PSG just sat back and just waited for that one chance. I think the narrative will be that Barcelona was so bad. No. PSG was good. I think it’s insulting to Unai Emery. I think it’s insulting to these player who, to a man, came out and individually, they won those battles. Every single 50/50 ball, fighting, tackling, out-numbering the opponent. We saw double, triple teams, and winning that ball in great places and then that transition.

This was a comprehensive performance from start to finish. We heard people talk about ‘could they last throughout the 90 minutes.’ They lasted throughout it and more. And so I think that [Emery] right here and his team deserve a tremendous amount of credit for what they did.

I know the story will be that Barcelona was bad, but I argue that PSG was good. And PSG made Barcelona bad.

PSG won the match with their press, making the game difficult on Barcelona and giving them no room to work. The best way to keep Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar out of the match is to press the defense and midfield so hard and turn them over so Barcelona’s fearsome front three can never get the ball. That’s what PSG did.

Of course, it’s hardly a new tactic. What PSG did is the logical way to beat Barcelona, but no one has pulled it off quite as thoroughly as PSG did. It was a sight to behold. And like Lalas said, if only PSG have been able to do that, it’s probably only right that we give them some credit. It was a spectacular performance by Emery and his team.