There’s a new king in town. Or at least that’s what it felt like watching Kylian Mbappe and Paris Saint-Germain tear Barcelona to shreds at Camp Nou on Tuesday evening in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie. The Parisians won the game 4-1, with Mbappe embodying their pace, power and ingenuity.
Barcelona, off the pace in La Liga and handed a tough Champions League draw after finishing second in their group, went into the game in lower morale than usual, albeit having turned a corner in terms of their league form. They took the lead inside the opening half-hour, Lionel Messi converting a penalty kick after Frenkie de Jong was fouled inside the box.
PSG equalised shortly after. It was Mbappe who struck, taking the ball from Marco Verratti, creating space in the box and then finishing lethally. The French marksman doubled his tally shortly after the hour mark, seizing on a loose ball, before completing a historic hat-trick in the final ten-minutes, finishing off a deadly counter-attack with a sublime effort. Moise Kean, on loan from Everton, scored PSG’s third goal.
Mauricio Pochettino, speaking post-match as per Marca, was delighted with Mbappe. “Great footballers create their own path and those three goals have put him in the media spotlight,” he said. “We had no doubts and we are very happy for him.
“Confidence always has to be absolute and he felt calm [before the game]. He asked me yesterday in training: ‘How many times have you won at Camp Nou?’ I told him once. He answered: ‘Tomorrow, it will be twice.’ That’s why he’s a top player.”