PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN 2-2 FC Barcelona (Barca win 4-1 on penalties)
The red carpet was laid out for the PSG players well and truly yesterday as they got off their team bus at the VIP entrance at the Parc des Princes, greeted by thousands of hysterical fans catching a glimpse of their new heroes. Ezequiel Lavezzi, Marco Verratti and the man of the hour Zlatan Ibrahimvoic were all met were jubilation before a ball had been kicked.
The atmosphere at the Parc was almost carnival like. A marquee friendly against FC Barcelona – the best football team on the planet – was an opportunity to introduce the ‘new’ PSG to the world so to speak. Although it was only a friendly, many of the prying eyes of world football were fixated on what was transpiring in Paris following the flurry of activity in the transfer window.
Minutes prior to kick-off, each Barcelona player starting the game was introduced one by one, greeted by warm cheers and applause. Ibrahimovic had received warm affectionate hugs in the tunnel from his former teammates having played in Catalonia for a season not too long back. After the Catalans made their entrance, each and every single member of the first-team squad for Les Parisiens was brought out individually and it was Zlatan who got the biggest cheer of the night- playing at the Parc for his new club for the very first time.
A tender moment occurred soon after as Barca’s Eric Abidal – who underwent a liver transplant back in April – was allowed to kick-off the game. The Frenchman, back on home soil, was roundly applauded as the crowd chanted his name. It was lovely to see him back within a football environment.
The first-half transpired with Barca dominating possession. They gained an early lead as Alex failed to deal with Alexis Sanchez’s driven ball into the box and Rafinha was able to slam the ball home from close range.
Into the second-half and the Blaugrana were awarded a penalty that simply was not. Alexis Sanchez had slipped in the box and to the amazement of Mamadou Sakho and the crowd, the referee pointed to the spot. When the replay was shown on the big screen it was met with a roar of laughter by the fans as they just could not believe what they had seen. As Sakho was in stitches, Messi stepped up to convert.
Soon after PSG were given a penalty of their own when Martin Montoya clipped Lavezzi in the box. It was Ibra who stepped up to sweep the ball past Jose Pinto as the Parisien faithful lavished their new hero with cheers.
A flurry of changes were made by both coaches soon after. Peguy Luyindula came on and was met by a mixed reception following his dispute with the club last season.
PSG dug in deep and reaped the rewards from it by bagging the equaliser via old stalwart Zoumana Camara heading home from a corner eight minutes from time.
The game ended 2-2 but an out-and-out winner was decided on penalties. Barca came out victorious as Gerard Pique scored the decisive spot-kick to make it 4-1 and win the Trophee de Paris. Abidal presented the trophy to Xavi Hernandez on an eventful and pleasant night for all involved.
Ibrahimovic certainly thought so and told the club’s Official Site after the game; “It was fantastic this evening, especially the atmosphere inside the ground with the fans. We proved tonight that we can match it with a truly great team. The more we play together, the better we will play. This is only the beginning.”
The club will now prepare for the start of the new season next weekend at home to Lorient. Carlo Ancelotti was pleased with his team but is under no illusion that improvements can be made. He told the Official Site; “It was a very difficult match against a very confident and experienced side. It was a very good test. I was especially happy with the movement of my defensive line. We still need to work on our offensive combinations. We have to work on our understanding with the new players. It was a good work out and the players’ attitude was good. We have another good week ahead of us to be ready for the start of the season.”
Photos from the night: