June 18, 2019, 10:39

Champions League talking points: Are PSG now the team to beat?

Champions League talking points: Are PSG now the team to beat?

Chelsea won 4-0 away to Qarabag but Manchester United were beaten 1-0 at Basel in Champions League action on Wednesday.

Elsewhere, Juventus and Barcelona played out a goalless draw, but it was Paris Saint-Germain who were the big winners of the night.

PSG beat Celtic 7-1 and must now be regarded as one of the teams to beat in this season’s Champions League. Here, we pick out the main talking points of the night…

No more slips for United

Unless CSKA Moscow put seven past Manchester United in the final round of Champions League group games, Jose Mourinho’s men are through to the knockout stages despite their 1-0 defeat at Basel. The United boss will also be pleased to have Marcos Rojo make his return as well as see Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic get more minutes.

Manchester United have failed to score in two of their last three games in all competitions, drawing a blank as many times as in their previous 22.

But there are a few concerns too. Romelu Lukaku’s form has dipped since his fine start and the return to fitness of Ibrahimovic has not sparked an upturn yet. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan also having dropped his level, there is a little bit for Mourinho to think about – Manchester City’s form means slip ups like this in the Premier League cannot be allowed to happen.

Hazard stars again for Chelsea

A midweek trip to Azerbaijan is hardly the perfect preparation for a big Premier League game against Liverpool this coming weekend, but Antonio Conte’s team still seemed to enjoy themselves in Baku – easing to a 4-0 victory and confirming their place in the Champions League knockout stages in the process.

Eden Hazard both scored and assisted in a Champions League game for the first time in his career.

Conte might even have learned a little more about his team, trying out the in-form Eden Hazard as the striker with Alvaro Morata on the bench. Hazard’s burgeoning partnership with the Spaniard has been a huge positive for Chelsea this season but he had fun without him here too. Could this be an alternative option for the Blues this season?

Are Barcelona the real deal?

Barcelona were uninspiring as they endured a second consecutive goalless draw in the Champions League. Neither Olympiakos nor Juventus are the easiest of opponents away from home but Barcelona have not threatened either team enough, with Gianluigi Buffon not even forced to make a save of note over the 90 minutes.

This was the first time that Barcelona have drawn consecutive Champions League games 0-0.

Ernesto Valverde named Lionel Messi among the substitutes but this display will only have confirmed what he already knew: Barca without Messi is a lesser being. Luis Suarez looks woefully out of form, and has now scored just four goals in his last 15 games. Barcelona have eased through the group but they don’t currently possess the fear factor that comes with the name. Maybe 90 minutes of Messi will bring that back sooner rather than later.

PSG justifying favourites tag

When it’s not Neymar, it’s Edinson Cavani, and when it’s not Cavani, it’s Kylian Mbappe. PSG recovered in emphatic style after going a goal down to Celtic in 56 seconds, with the revered front three killing the game off within 35 minutes in Paris. By the end it was 7-1 – PSG’s tally of 24 goals for the campaign breaking the group-stage goals record with a game to spare.

PSG have scored more goals in a single Champions League group stage than any other side ever.

They now travel to Bayern Munich in a fortnight’s time, their toughest test so far, but having already picked up a 3-0 win over the German champions in September’s reverse fixture, the clues to their superiority are already there. Can anyone tame the Ligue 1 leaders? In this form, a first Champions League trophy looks a distinct possibility.

Source: skysports.com

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