Paris Saint-Germain kept their hopes of qualifying for the last 16 of the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League alive by beating Liverpool 2-1 at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday.
Les Parisiens took the lead through Juan Bernat after just 13 minutes, and Neymar made the points safe when he found the net eight minutes prior to the break.
A James Milner penalty deep into first-half stoppage time gave Liverpool hope, but last season’s beaten finalists ultimately slipped to their third defeat in a row away from home in this season’s competition.
PSG Front Three Far Superior to Liverpool Forward Line
Before the match, PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon told David Maddock of the Daily Mirror Liverpool owned the best front three in Europe. Buffon probably knows better now, though, because the superior front three is closer to home for the 40-year-old stopper.
Buffon saw firsthand how PSG proved themselves a better attacking force than Liverpool thanks to a front three with greater pace, guile, experience and star power. The Reds’ admittedly excellent trio of Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah were easily overshadowed by Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe.
Yet the gifted Brazil international’s off-the-ball runs weren’t the most perceptive of every player on the pitch.
Instead, Cavani led the Reds on a dance as he glided, rotated and spun in behind at will. The prolific No. 9 understandably drew a crowd wherever he went, with his runs opening space for Neymar and Mbappe to go through the middle.
Kylian Mbappe & Neymar really tearing Liverpool a new one down their right flank. PSG could’ve had three or four goals if it wasn’t for Alisson. That might prove costly.
It was fitting Neymar was the one to double PSG’s lead on 37 minutes only after he reacted quickest to a rebound from Cavani’s effort
Liverpool’s attack is still better than most, but it remains a pale shadow of a PSG strikforce with a frightening 37 goals between them already this season.
Marco Verratti More Important for PSG UCL Hopes than Neymar
As good as Neymar is, it’s not a stretch to say he isn’t the most important player for PSG’s bid to finally win the Champions League. At least not outright, not given the difference Marco Verratti makes to this team.
The Italy international midfield general bossed the game during the first half. He owned the ball by recycling possession with efficiency and intelligence.
Verratti’s vision and creativity ensured Les Parisiens kept moving forward and exposed the gaps in the Liverpool team between the lines. Having a player conduct things with this kind of consummate ease made PSG look sophisticated and mature enough to claim this trophy.
PSG need only look at holders Real Madrid for proof of how valuable a consistent pass-master can be in this competition. While Los Blancos won the trophy in the last three seasons on the strength of Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals, their true platform for success was a balanced midfield underpinned by Luka Modric and his astute radar.
Verratti doesn’t have the same support Modric had, not with converted centre-back Marquinhos and roaming winger Angel Di Maria around him. However, there’s no mistaking Verratti’s influence whenever PSG string the passes together.
The one blot on his copybook comes from a struggle to keep his discipline summed by a reckless challenge on Liverpool defender Joe Gomez
PSG need Verratti to keep his cool because this squad is a contender with its best playmaker available. Without him, Les Parisiens are destined to be also-rans in this tournament.
Hirving Lozano Ready for Big Move
All eyes were on Lozano on Tuesday, with the Mexican winger emerging as one of Europe’s most interesting talents.
PSV had their fair share of the ball in attacking areas in the first half, and it was obvious to see why they currently dominate proceedings in the Eredivisie.
De Jong gave up two excellent opportunities to smash the deadlock, and Lozano’s movement was impressive. Barca turned the screw as half-time approached, but the Mexico international remained influential with his creativity on display.
Lozano faded in the game in the second half, but the player’s flashes of brilliance proved he is close to needing a bigger stage.
Barca were much more comfortable as the game unravelled, and PSV’s forwards were starved of the opportunities they created early on. The forward has admitted he wants the opportunity of a move to the Premier League. His recent displays suggest he could be a major star if he gets the chance to depart the Netherlands.
Lozano was reportedly linked with a potential switch to Barca and said the Catalans are his favourite team in Spain.
The Mexico international has so much potential, and the chance to walk out at the Camp Nou on a regular basis could be his one day.