Author of a “masterclass” on the lawn of Camp Nou, Kylian Mbappé gave an answer to his detractors by atomizing Barcelona (4-1).
The champions’ ledgers are full of bookmarks. Kylian Mbappé’s was already well stocked. At the age of 22, Bondy’s prodigy, a world superstar, had one with Monaco, when he burst into the great European battles 4 years ago. He also had one with Les Bleus, of course, with his exploits in mondiovision which had allowed him to present himself to the world. But he was missing one with the PSG. You know, this type of indisputable, irrefutable exploit, without a hitch, without a flat, without the slightest false note. It’s all done with this near-perfect copy at the Camp Nou, in the den of Barcelona.
Mbappé had never set foot in the Camp Nou.
It must be said that in his young career, the young man never did things by halves. The Champions League may have slipped through his fingers for the past 4 years, but Mbappé had already scored in almost all major European settings: Bernabeu in Madrid, Etihad Stadium or Old Trafford in Manchester, Anfield in Liverpool, Juventus Stadium in Turin, Allianz Arena in Munich or Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund. All except Camp Nou. There was no trace of the Catalan arena in this list because the person concerned had never set foot there. A first sign.
The second sign was that the number 7 of the PSG was only one goal away from Pauleta’s total (109 pawns). There are nights when records make more sense. With his hat-trick, Kylian Mbappé has propelled himself on the podium of the top scorers in the history of the capital club, where only Edinson Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovic are still ahead of him. “I always wanted to give the best of myself with this jersey. It’s close to my heart. It hasn’t always been a success, and I’m still going to miss games, but never in life will I hide. Today, it’s hard work that pays off,” he stressed on RMC, soberly, as if to echo the little music that surrounded him on each of his contrasting Champions League outings.
A nightmare for Messi
We don’t know if Lionel Messi will one day play with Kylian Mbappé in his immense career, but we are sure that the Argentinean will have nightmares about it. Because Mbappé destroyed Barça as he destroyed Argentina. A premonition was running through the Parisian ranks given the configuration of the day: on the outside, against this decimated and porous defense, with a Mbappé in net revival on the visual impression diffused since two weeks.
All this idealized image became reality, with the first action as a symbol: a violent race in the depths to force the Barcelona rearguard to disengage in a hurry after a few seconds. It was in good taste, too, to believe in a duplication of roles in relation to Neymar’s absence. But at no time did Mbappé thwart or overplay his hand, to return to the fashionable clichés. Determined and clinical, the number 7 set about multiplying his personal shots while going in the direction of the game, in his throw-ins or openings – like his back pass for Kurzawa at the end of the first period (42nd).
Kylian Mbappé had it all right.
Applied in the game, generous in the collective effort – his folds were visible, as were those of his colleagues Icardi and Kean – Mbappé made the match turn on his efficiency. First, he equalized in a sequence that was a carbon copy of the first of his two goals against Argentina – a control in the box to take the ball away, a small step and a shot from the left (32nd). Then, again from the left, to give the Parisians back the advantage at the best moment (65th). And finally by finishing his grandiose performance with a masterful goal, a curling shot from the right this time, after a perfect counterattack led by Draxler (85th).
A new dazzling acceleration, concluded in solo, could be pointed at, but it would be unfair to point it out. Numbers don’t tell the whole story, but they don’t lie. Mbappé has glided over the match: 6 shots (4 shots on target), 4 opportunities created, 80% of duels won, or 9 dribbles out of 13 “We’re very happy. It was an important match for us. We wanted to come here and win, that’s what we did, with the way we did it. Now we’re focused on our goals. It’s important to get our head back in the championship. This game is beautiful, but we didn’t win anything,” he explained again.
Scrutinized by the Spanish press, the player’s masterclass is obviously a sensation on the other side of the Pyrenees. But it does not change its point of reflection. “It would be “stupid” to play one’s future on a game, whether it is good or bad. It’s ridiculous. The Spanish press has talked about it, but you have to let them talk. It’s a long-term reflection. I have always said that I was happy at PSG, and after these kinds of matches I am even happier. “In front of the microphones, too, there are evenings when Kylian Mbappé is really good.