Football

PSG still not the finished article

Paris St Germain's 3-1 defeat by Barcelona yesterday morning (Singapore time) showed the French champions, who suffered their first defeat of the season, still have a long way to go before winning the Champions League.

PSG, who reached the quarter-finals in the last two editions, finished second in Group F, two points behind Barca after their lack of efficiency cost them dearly at the Nou Camp.

There was, however, not much to do when the opponents' leading trio is made of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez - a line-up the Qatar-funded PSG cannot afford after being capped by Uefa's Financial Fair Play.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic put PSG ahead early on, but Barca turned the situation around with their three strikers.

They had a clear chance, however, to lead 2-1 in the 29th minute, but the unmarked Lucas Moura misfired a volley from Blaise Matuidi's perfect cross.

"If Lucas scores, the match is a different affair," PSG president Nasser al-Khelaifi said.

But Lucas did not score. Like Edinson Cavani, the Brazilian lacks efficiency and, while it does not harm them that much in Ligue 1, it is indeed a different affair in the Champions League.

"We have regrets because we missed a few opportunities," said Matuidi, after PSG suffered their first defeat in 24 competitive games this season.

PSG were indeed shaky at the back, with Thiago Silva resembling more the fragile centre back who lost his composure at the World Cup than the intimidating AC Milan defender he was before arriving in France.

Marco Verratti marshalled the midfield in the first half but he was not helped by Thiago Motta, who seems to be on a downward slope.

"We also lacked defensive efficiency," coach Laurent Blanc (above) said.

"Because they were not that dangerous. The team who had the best chances in the first half, were PSG."

PSG now must hope they will be spared by Monday's last-16 draw, which could pit them against Real Madrid or Bayern Munich, although they know they must beat everyone if they are to win the Champions League for the first time.

"Finishing second does not mean we're eliminated. Our opponents will be tough, but we will be ready," said Matuidi. 
- Reuters.