Barcelona won a thrilling contest at the Parc des Princes over PSG in another high-scoring quarterfinal in the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League. Both the Spanish and French sides entered this game on fine form to set up the latest clash in this fixture. This was the sixth time PSG would face Barcelona in the knockout stages of the Champions League. PSG won the most recent of those ties after a 4-1 win at Camp Nou.

That win in 2021 featured a Kylian Mbappe hat trick. On Wednesday evening in Paris, Barcelona did well to silence arguably the best player in the world. However, the team-based approach of PSG that differs from previous seasons made this game a massive struggle for Barcelona. Despite holding a halftime lead, PSG found the advantage just six minutes into the second half. Xavi’s substitutions in the second half restored a Barcelona lead that it would not relinquish.

Barcelona weathers early storm to take the lead

Following Tuesday’s onslaught of goals in the Champions League quarterfinal first legs, PSG blitzed Barcelona with early chances. Ousmane Dembele, Marco Asensio and Kylian Mbappe fired shots toward Marc Andre ter Stegen in the Barcelona net. The German was equal to all attempts, but Barcelona struggled to find any form of comfort on the ball. PSG brought a heavy press that allowed the French side to control possession of the ball.

It took 20 minutes for Barcelona to have a clear look at goal, and it was inches away from finding the opener. Robert Lewandowski rose above the rest on a corner to head the ball on the net. Only Nuno Mendes sliding along the goal line could clear the ball at the last second.

Raphinha would eventually provide Barcelona with the lead after 37 minutes. An outside-of-the-foot cross from Lamine Yamal on the right side of the attack entered a dangerous area. Lewandowski and PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma nearly collided, and the ball fell to Raphinha. On his weaker right foot, Raphinha shot the ball with height into the exposed net to give Barcelona a lead entering the second half.

Barcelona steals win over PSG in quarterfinal first leg

That lead lasted all of three minutes after the restart. Luis Enrique’s halftime team talk invigorated PSG into an instant attacking threat. PSG drew level at the 48-minute mark after former Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele lashed a left-footed shot into the roof of ter Stegen’s net. Then, a brilliant bit of team play down the right side allowed Fabian Ruiz to play Vitinha in behind. The Portuguese midfielder passed the ball into the back of the net to put PSG deservedly in front.

The story of the second half for Barcelona came in two parts. On one hand, near misses from PSG kept the game close. A sliding challenge in the box from Ronald Araujo denied Bradley Barcola a certain goal. Ter Stegen also watched a shot from Ousmane Dembele deflect off his post and go out of play.

The other part of the story for Barcelona was the impact of second-half substitutes. Pedri came on in the midfield and made an instant impact. A ball played over the top of the PSG defense yielded a shot on the first touch from Raphinha. A sensational finish from the Brazilian restored parity in the fixture. Fifteen minutes later, another substitute had an instant impact. Andreas Christensen, brought on for defensive security in a tie game, was uncontested on a Barcelona corner. The Dane headed the ball on goal and Donnarumma was helpless from close range.

With the lead, Barcelona soaked up PSG’s pressure and waited for the final whistle. Now, the Catalans will have a one-goal advantage ahead of the second leg of the quarterfinal between Barcelona and PSG. That game is on Tuesday, April 16, with coverage in the United States available on Paramount+.