PSG produced 'one of the best displays in their history' vs. Barcelona - Xavi
Xavi Hernandez has praised Paris Saint-Germain after their 4-0 thrashing of Barcelona in the Champions League round-of-16 first leg at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday.
Unai Emery's side were superior to Barca all over the pitch and won heavily through an Angel Di Maria double and Julian Draxler and Edinson Cavani goals.
Speaking with L'Equipe, Barca legend Xavi paid full credit to PSG and said he was surprised by such a comprehensive thrashing for his former club.
"I did not expect that result," said the 37-year-old, who now plays for Al Sadd in Qatar. "It surprised me a lot but you have to emphasise that PSG deserved it, they put in an incredible performance.
"It was one of the best displays in their history, no doubt. They did everything well, in attack, defence, pressing, they played with character and brought the ball out from the back well. Paris played at a spectacular level."
Xavi was particularly impressed by PSG midfielder Marco Verratti on Tuesday but he also singled out centre-back Presnel Kimpembe.
"One player who must be highlighted is Verratti," he said. "For me, he was truly extraordinary. He really defeated Barcelona's pressing. When [Sergio] Busquets went to put him under pressure, he knew what to do each time.
"After him, I was very surprised by Kimpembe -- I did not know him before but he had an incredible match."
Another former Barcelona figure, Marseille sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta, was stunned by the result.
Speaking with RMC Sport, the former Spain international goalkeeper said he had expected a low-scoring Barca win.
"If we had been told just before the match that PSG was going to win 4-0, nobody would have believed it, not even Emery," Zubizarreta said. "Especially because of what has happened in their previous games against Barcelona.
"This was supposed to be a balanced encounter. I did not expect there to be many goals. This is the beauty of knockout-round matches. In the group stages, you can have a bad night and there will still be five other games for you to catch up.
"It is different in the home and away matches. One bad day and everything can become very complicated, especially against top level teams like PSG, who have players and a squad that will punish mistakes."
Zubizarreta did warn PSG, though, that if any side can recover from such a thrashing, it is Barcelona with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar in attack.
"If there is a team capable of this sort of feat, then it is perhaps Barcelona," Zubizarreta said. "They have incredible attacking prowess and it is not crazy to imagine Suarez scoring one, Neymar another and Messi adding a double.
"PSG are obviously almost through to the next round because a single away goal in the away leg would make it impossible, or almost, for Barca. However, I repeat, it is not impossible that Barcelona's three attackers wake up and score at least one goal each.
"Remember, this is still only the last 16, there is a second leg to come and after that, the quarterfinals. There is a long way to go in this Champions League still."
Barcelona will host PSG in the return leg at the Camp Nou on March 8.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.