Europe’s media hails ‘hurricane’ Mbappe

BARCELONA: Barcelona’s Spanish defender Gerard Pique (left) challenges Paris Saint-Germain’s French forward Kylian Mbappe during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg football match between FC Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain FC at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on Tuesday. – AFP

PARIS: Europe’s media lavished praise on PSG’s “hurricane” superstar Kylian Mbappe after a stunning Champions League hat-trick blew away Lionel Messi’s Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Tuesday. The 22-year-old’s goals in the round of 16 first-leg tie made him the first-ever player to score a hat-trick against Barcelona in the knockout stages of the elite competition.

French daily L’Equipe called the striker “atomic” and the team a “formidable collective force” which stopped the genius of Messi, who is considered one of the greatest footballers of all time. It called PSG’s stars “Galacticos” on its front page and said “it will be necessary to consider stopping football” if the Parisians do not qualify for the quarter-finals after securing a 4-1 first-leg lead.

‘Historic display’
Spain’s Madridista press, while hailing the young Frenchman, was more critical of the Barcelona performance. Madrid daily AS did not hold back, saying Barcelona had seen in PSG “a mirror that reflects their image” of a team that now “terrorizes, subdues and destroys them”.

“Mbappe went through the Camp Nou and devastated it like a hurricane, with a historic display, one that will remain etched in memories forever,” wrote the Marca daily, also from Madrid. Missing other top stars Neymar and Angel Di Maria, PSG were “led by an unstoppable Kylian and a colossal Veratti,” it said, calling Barcelona “light years away from the great dominators of the continent, once again humiliated in the Champions League.”

“Mbappe destroys Barca in the Nou Camp,” read the headline in Barcelona daily Mundo Deportivo. “Barca remain very, very far from the level required for the Champions League,” it read. The other Barcelona sports daily, Sport, said Barca were “pulverised by PSG” and Mbappe “has proven to be an uncontrollable giant”.

‘Changing of the guard’
British tabloid The Sun said the match pointed to a “changing of the guard at the head of world football” as speculation mounts that Messi will part ways with his longtime club at the end of the season. “Lionel Messi, for so long the planet’s greatest player not only of his day but of all time, was completely upstaged by Kylian Mbappe,” it wrote. It said the “electric Frenchman” of just 22 years “now looks ready to claim Messi’s crown as the king of world football” after his hat-trick.

The Daily Telegraph echoed that sentiment, saying that if it was Messi’s final European adventure with Barcelona “it might well be remembered as the season in which the crown was ripped from his head”. It said Mbappe produced “one of the great European hat-tricks of recent years” while Messi faded from the game “like a light bulb losing power”. The PSG star delivered “nothing short of a masterclass,” it concluded. – AFP


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