Barcelona’s desperation in dealing with Kylian Mbappe was best encapsulated in the one image which went viral on Tuesday night.
The Paris Saint-Germain striker was using his blistering pace to devastating effect and Barcelona defender Gerard Pique could only make a desperate attempt to grab the 22-year-old’s shirt. It seemed the only way he could stop him.
Pique’s desperate attempt to slow Mbappe down was ruthlessly mocked online by fans on a night Match of the Day host Gary Lineker felt there was a ‘changing of the guard’ for football.
A hat-trick for @KMbappe tonight,’ Lineker wrote. ‘We may be witnessing a changing of the guard.’
Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford and Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho were also enthused by Mbappe’s masterclass at the Nou Camp.
‘Big player!’ wrote Sancho, while Rashford added, ‘what a performance’ with a fire emoji to emphasis Mbappe’s hot-streak.
Neymar, Mbappe’s team-mate who missed out on the match through injury, wrote: ‘Mbappe PLAYING A LOT….. my boy’s HAT-TRICK’.
But as much as people were ready to crown Mbappe as the heir to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s throne as the greatest in the game, it was a night which saw Pique’s desperate launch mercilessly mocked.
Fans quickly shared the image of him stretching to reach the back of Mbappe’s jersey in a bid to slow the Frenchman down.
‘Dear Pique, if you wanted Mbappe’s shirt, just ask,’ one fan joked.
Another added: ‘Mbappe looks like a cartoon character there. It’s like Pique trying to grab the roadrunner.’
The jokes continued long after the match with one amused fan writing: ‘Mbappe: I’m going for your girl; Pique: no; Mbappe: catch me if you can’.
Mbappe was irresistible down the left wing for PSG and caused Barca’s vulnerable defence all sorts of problems as he fired in a superb hat-trick.
Spanish press tore into Ronald Koeman’s ‘characterless’ Barcelona after ‘another embarrassment’ in the Champions League as they were ripped apart by Mbappe.
Barcelona took the lead through a Lionel Messi penalty but the Catalan side quickly collapsed as Mbappe netted a hat-trick in the famous victory, with Moise Kean also on the scoresheet.
It was Mbappe who dominated Wednesday’s front pages with his performance described by Diario AS as like ‘a hurricane’ that devastated the Nou Camp.
Marca described how Mbappe ‘blew Barca away’, while Sport went with a similar line as the French striker ‘swept Barca aside’ on the night.
Mundo Deportivo simply coined the term ‘Mbappe’d’ after his one-man show left Koeman’s side on the brink of elimination at the halfway stage in the last-16 tie.
They described Barcelona as ‘fragile, imprecise and characterless’ on the night in a performance that was an indictment of their decline in recent seasons.