While Barcelona aren’t at full capacity yet, with Tito Vilanova still trying and tweaking things in his lineup, PSG are up and running with their strongest possible starting XI. After making a few big changes and maybe still yet to come, with the ambitions they have, there’s no use in gradually trying to blend the new players.
This is still a Barcelona kind of Europe. They didn’t win the Champions League, they didn’t win the La Liga last season. But they impose their style with ease, and if you’re not named Chelsea, they don’t have much trouble scoring against you, even when playing without the full intent to score and cause damage.
Players like Rafinha Alcantara and Carles Planas got a chance to show their worth to the future of Barcelona, with Rafinha scoring the opening goal of the match, followed by a Lionel Messi penalty and a 2-0 lead at half time. That was enough for Zlatan Ibrahimovic who brought PSG back in the game with a goal, and it was substitute Zoumana Camara who levelled the playing field, sending the Trophee de Paris match into a penalty shootout, won by Barcelona thanks to their substitute keeper, Jose Manuel Pinto.
The interesting think to see was what are the plans of both head coaches for next season. Ancelotti started with what he thinks is his best lineup, which is also built on his three most expensive players up front. Thiago Silva is still with the national team at the Olympics, but Zlatan, Pastore and Lavezzi are the trio that will be looked upon to lead PSG not only to a smooth sailing kind of league title in France, but more than just a group stage performance in the Champions League.
And that’s where problems might start showing up. The importance of both competitions does give Ancelotti a chance to use some rotations, because players like Jeremy Menez and Kevin Gameiro won’t stay happy for very long if they find themselves spending plenty of time on the bench. Nene, at the moment, is safe, as he should be thanks to his fantastic goal production over the last couple of years, 49 goals in 93 matches.
But PSG need to learn from Manchester City of last season, if it’s even possible. A shiny new squad with the best of players isn’t always enough. There’s something about UCL experience that hinders even the best of sides on their first season in the competition. Despite all of the talent, don’t be surprised to see them struggle in Europe.
Barcelona? The goals are obvious. Bring the title back, bring the Champions League title back. Trying to make the team just a little bit less about Messi and getting more players involved in the scoring, which was probably the club’s biggest problem last season. They hope that the return of David Villa and a fully healthy (and diving) Alexis Sanchez might help with that. The question is if last season was the beginning of the inevitable decline or just a bump in the road.