“This poster is studded with stars, both on the pitch and in the stands,” shouts the announcer of the Parc des Princes. The opening music from Star Wars blares through the speaker. Virage Auteuil, where the ultra supporters of Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) sit, the tifos follow one another: a text first, in the style of the credits of the saga of Georges Lucas, then a Darth Vader flocked with the crest of the FC Barcelona, ​​before Yoda, the Jedi master, appears – dressed in a Parisian jersey of course – lightsabers in hands and carrying this injunction: “You must win for us. »

The staging of the reunion between the two European rivals was perfect. In several respects, the scenario of the quarter-final first leg of the Champions League between PSG and Barça, Wednesday April 10, was also, with its share of suspense and twists and turns. The epilogue, a little less. At least for the locals. Final score: 2-3 in favor of the Catalans.

“Obviously, the defeat does not make us happy,” admitted Parisian coach Luis Enrique, at a press conference at the end of a meeting which took place with reinforced security due to threats from the organization Islamic State. “There were good times,” he noted. We dominated in the first half, until their first goal which made us doubt. We changed our plans at the break and the match took a different turn, we scored two goals. Then Barcelona continued to play very well. There were strong moments, weak moments, and in the end, the result was not good for us. »

Double from Raphinha

Let’s rewind. First there was, therefore, this start to the game which got off to a good start by the Parisians, without however being really dangerous against the goals. Then came the first shift, in the 37th minute, when Raphinha took advantage of a missed exit from goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma on a cross from Lamine Yamal to give the Blaugranas the advantage (0-1). Stunned but not overwhelmed, the PSG players reversed the trend upon returning from the locker room, finding in Ousmane Dembélé, a former Barcelona player, their providential man. A right-footed hook, a powerful left-footed strike, number 10 brought some color back to the Parc des Princes (1-1, 48th).

Two minutes later, Vitinha increased the score by deceiving Marc-André ter Stegen with an outside foot (2-1, 50th) to the clamor of the public. But the joy will be short-lived. In the 62nd minute, the approximately 2,000 culers – Barcelona supporters – present at Porte de Saint-Cloud remembered the good memories of their hosts, thanks to Raphina – him again –, magnificently served by Pedri (2-2).

Ousmane Dembélé, too, could have scored his double, but his cross shot ended up on Ter Stegen’s left post (75th). It was a corner from Ilkay Gündogan finding the head of Andreas Christensen which sealed the outcome of the game (2-3, 77th). Parisian attempts to finish at least with a parity score remained in vain.

“This is not the end of the road.”

If the Catalans’ coach, the lawn. Choices which allowed the ex-midfielder to end the series of invincibility of the one who was his teammate and his coach at Barça: Luis Enrique’s Paris had not lost since the match against AC Milan (1-2) in the Champions League, November 7, 2023, i.e. twenty-seven matches without defeat.

This Wednesday, however, when the final whistle blew, Xavi already had the lead in the quarter-final second leg, on April 16, at the Lluis-Companys Olympic Stadium. “I’m a Blaugrana supporter so I’m happy, but it’s not the end of the road. Even if we won a very important away match, there remains a crucial meeting on Tuesday in Barcelona,” he insisted. Same story with his PSG counterpart. “We could have done better, but now we have to think about what’s next,” insisted Luis Enrique. I have no doubt that we can qualify (…) We have six days to prepare. »

The latter, better than anyone, knows that a “comeback” is always possible. The coach did not forget March 8, 2017, when his FC Barcelona, ​​promised to be eliminated in the round of 16 after a heavy defeat (0-4) in the first leg, finally overthrew PSG (6-1) at the Camp Nou in the second leg. Especially, recalls Xavi, that this time, “there is only one goal difference, it’s not much in football”.