Paris Saint Germain 2 FC Barcelona 2 (Barça win 4-1 on penalties)

Barça’s third preseason game ended with a victory on penalties after a hard-fought 2-2 draw against this summer’s big spenders Paris Saint Germain whose starting XI included ex-blaugranas Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Maxwell Andrade. Thiago Alcantara’s “little” brother Rafinha and Leo Messi from the penalty spot had given Barça a 0-2 lead early in the second half but another penalty, this time converted by Ibrahimovic for PSG, and a goal eight minutes from time by Camara earned a draw for the home team. 

Before the game there was a great moment as an elegantly dressed Eric Abidal came out to make the honorific kick-off as the crowd chanted his name. Barça played for the first time in the away strip that looks like a drink you might find at a tropical beach bar, (at least they’ll have no problem seeing each other if there is ever a floodlight failure). The team got off to a good start and took the lead after just six minutes, Alexis squared from the right of the area, PSG defender Alex tried to clear but only succeeded in making a slight deflection and the ball hit Rafinha, falling kindly for him to shoot past keeper Douchez from ten yards. PSG offered little in response and it was great to see Carles Puyol back after injury forming a solid partnership with Mascherano at the back, the ball rarely came into Barça’s half without one of the two anticipating the danger and winning the ball back. Ibrahimovic hardly had a touch and he also took a painful whack on the knee on one of the occasions that Mascherano, legally, robbed him of the ball.

Going forward Messi showed touches of his class which had the Parisian crowd purring in appreciation but only one of his four first-half shots went between the post and Douchez made an easy save. the contribution of the youngsters Carles Planas, Sergi Roberto and Rafinha was generally very promising, and Rafinha looked especially good, no doubt with the goal giving him the boost in confidence.

Barça brought on Pinto, Bartrá, Montoya and Dos Santos at half time and the second half continued with a good high rhythm for a preseason game but now with a heavy shower to make the surface a little slippery. Barça went further ahead after the referee erroneously signaled a penalty when Alexis went down under the speed of his own turn, the French crowd, with the instant video replay shown in the stadium, roared their disapproval, but Messi was unruffled and he calmly rolled in the penalty as Douchez dived in the opposite direction.

It was not long after that PSG won a penalty back, this time correctly seen by the official, after Montoya caught a forward swinging a leg up towards a shoulder-high ball. Ibra’s penalty was crisp and low and just out of Pinto’s reach. There followed a massive substitute change with PSG bringing on four subs while Fabregas, Xavi, Piqué, Iniesta and Pedro came on for Barça. One might have expected that five such excellent players could only improve things for Barça but the reality was our level dropped towards the end.

Fabregas had one effort saved and soon after he had the ball in the net only to be ruled offside while our best chance of the last twenty minutes fell to Tello who had just come on as another sub, but he ballooned his shot high and wide after Messi’s assist. As we entered the final ten minutes Pinto had to make one double-save at the near post that was more the type of goalkeeping you’d expect to see in handball. However, from the resulting corner Bartrá missed his header and Camara was free to head cleanly past Pinto.

There was one more drive from 25 yards from Fabregas that Douchez beat away for a corner but at the end is was down to Pinto in the penalty shoot out to earn the victory. Pinto saved PSG’s first two penalties, both with spectacular dives to his right, to prove what a specialist he is in these situations. Messi, Xavi, Cesc and Piqué all scored with well-taken kicks.

Of the performance today I was very happy with the first half, my only problem is a little bit with Afellay who I’m afraid I think is not going to get too many chances once the official games begin. He really needs to make the most of these games and he is still not doing enough. The defence in the second half may have suffered due to all the changes but it is a little worrying that the two PSG goals came from two of our youngsters who have recently been promoted to the first team. If no more signings arrive, will they offer adequate cover in the really big games?

The early signs with Tito Vilanova are generally very good. With the foundations so well placed there may be some who will say that Vilanova has an easy job. He doesn’t. Replacing Guardiola would be tough for anyone. Nobody could say that Guardiola never made a mistake but he had a pretty high percentage for getting things right. As the season progresses many important decisions will have to be made and it will be Tito, not Pep, making them. The playing style and philosophy remain the same, which is great, but the decisions Tito makes may well be the difference between success and failure. So far it’s looking pretty good. Next up is a game with Manchester United in Gothenburg on Wednesday

Barça: Valdés (Pinto m45), Alves (Tello m78), Puyol (Bartrá m45), Mascherano (Piqué m62), Planas (Montoya m45); Busquets (Dos Santos m45), Sergi Roberto (Xavi m62), Rafinha (Fabregas m62); Alexis (Pedro m62), Messi, Afellay (Iniesta m62).

Goals: 0-1 Rafinha m6, 0-2 Messi (pen) m53, 1-2 Ibrahimovic (pen) m60, 2-2 Camara m82

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9 Responses to Paris Saint Germain 2 FC Barcelona 2 (Barça win 4-1 on penalties)

  1. Layibiyi says:

    I think it’s obvious for all to see that we are taking a gamble on our younger defenders if the team remains like this. We are stacked from midfield onwards and it’s easier to gamble on such players than defenders ( rafa made a few mistakes but he will be evaluated as impressive with a goal to his name, bartra n Montoya made theirs and will be held mainly responsible for the draw).

    I think we are ‘ok’on the left with alba and adriano still around but I’m not sold on the depth in the center. With abidal out, we are loosing two positions. How often can busquets go back to help if he has also lost help from Keita in midfield?Anyways, I’m sure Tito is very much aware of all this so he should have his plans.

    Rafa and sergi Roberto played really well in midfield. I thought was supposed to be a false 9. You are also right about afellay, Not sure of what to do about him.

  2. barcacentralomer says:

    For some strange reason, La Masia hasn’t been able to replicate its performance of churning out world class midfielders on a regular basis when it comes to defenders. Carles Puyol is the only name that comes to mind or maybe I have a selective memory. Pique IMO really took his game to another level during his time with Man Utd or else he wouldn’t have been sold in the first place by Barca.

    While I share Nic’s apprehensions about the young defenders, do we really have any other option? I don’t think our finances would permit us to sign somebody in the league of Thiago Silva and even if we could sign them, would a world class CB be content warming the bench with the likes of Puyol, Masch and Pique beging higher in the pecking order? Perhaps the likes of Montoya,Bartra etc. will learn from such mistakes and the Copa fixtures along with sub appearances in league fixtures will result in them improving their performance and staking a claim for regular first team action in the coming years.

  3. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    In general, i think the combination of Bartra and Pique could be the one for the future. Bartra is my favorite to take over the reigns of Puyol at the back.

    However,,,, it must be said that FOR NEXT SEASON, we need to find another dependable alternative, especially for the big games. Man City has bid 20M for the likes of De Rossi from Roma. De Rossi is the type of player that could really make us complete. He could play CM, DM, and CB and has a exceptional passing abilities as well. However, Roma might be looking for something beyond 35M i suspect. I hate the idea of us spending big just to make things perfect. But i love the idea of having De Rossi in our team =D

    2nd) Daniel Agger- 15-18M

    3rd) Javi Marinez 35M and above(way too expensive)

    4th) Song (arsenal) 20M (my least prefered on the list)

    5th) Dede CB from Vasco Da Gama- 15M(some say he is very similar to Rio Ferdinand) This guy is very very comfortable on the ball. Very very good speed and pretty nice height as well. Worth the risk IMO
    Whatever the case, i hope we find a great backup that could threaten to make the starting position of CB his own. We need a serious contender. And yes, it would be great if we could get him for 18M and below if possible.

    What are your thoughts on our CB problems and possible signings?? Let’s share some pre season signing / improvisation thoughts =)

  4. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    I also like Javi Garcia(who sadly originates from Madrid) from Benfica and i think A.Rami of Valencia is pretty decent as well.

    • layibiyi says:

      wow… I suspect you watch a wide variety of games like I do. I’m cool with most of the players you mentioned(its not as if we are looking to buy them to come and save our defence, we just need complements) and I agree with the price issues as well.

      A few comments:
      – de rossi has shown of late he can be as excellent as the other players that have emerged in being able to combine CB-DM capabilities. He struggled at first but when luis enrique started using him as a CB but later came into his own as can be seen in the euros. I just feel he is still far more interested in midfield compared to the others. Also, he definitely would not be cheap

      – I like agger but everybody knows about his fitness issues

      – Javi martinez has been the favourite, just the price

      – I kind of like the song option too, he would be a good complement to the team overall. He has played center back a lot for cameroun and can bring out/protect the ball as well under pressure (not as good as yaya though). I’m not sure of why he’s your least favourite. I however don’t think wenger will like us to have anything easy

      – heard about dede too, haven’t seen him much though so that would depend on our scout’s opinions if we have interested.

      – i like javi garcia a lot as well. Benfica usually leaves him outnumbered in the midfield to prevent attacks and he does a pretty good job. Has complete attributes required for such functions even though he leans more to being a destructive DM/CB. He hasn’t played a lot of games as CB but he has the attributes.

      – rami used to be one of my favs but i was really surprised at some of his concentration issues last season. It could be due to valencia’s general problem with getting motivated to finish 3rd at best.

      In summary, I think i would like the dual role players than the ones that are more one-side. However, we could still buy the the latter type because we already have mascherano who can do whatever shuttling is needed.

      Not considering price, my preferences will be
      Javi. M – De rossi – Song – Javi Garcia – Agger – Dede – Rami

  5. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    Nice choice Layibiyi. I watch football whenever i’m free. And now that i’m on a 2 week holiday, while my wife’s worried about holiday arrangements, i’m worried about the backup CB and DM position for Barcelona.

    I really hope we buy something that reflects well on our scouting team rather than just pure splashing of money. This is a challenge for our scouts. They have to be decisive while the club is afforded the pleasure of not being desperate to buy big this time around.

    Lastly, i have to say that i am quite a fan of Neymar, and i know that he has a big future and all.,,but i really don’t see why we should pay 45M and above to land him so desperately(just so Madrid won’t get him first)…

    We have so much of firepower upfront. Why spend crazy on a young boy who hasn’t really done anything in Europe just yet. Is that kind of spending really worth it?

  6. barcacentralnic says:

    Well, it seems Liverpool have put a price of around €27 million for Danny Agger while Man City are reported to have offered around €22 million. It looks a bit too much if you ask me but we are running out of options if we are going to get a central defender. Great news though that Abidal wants to try and return by December, he’d be a massive boost to the squad but unless they are 100% sure he can recover his physical condition it seems a bit risky to count on him.

  7. FC Barcelona Rocks! says:

    I’m afraid you’re right Nic. We definitely should not look to spend anything above 22M on a 27 year old Agger (with fitness issues)

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