PSG prove they are firmly among Europe's elite with demolition of Bayer

Alex Grimm

PSG put away any doubts about their place among Europe's elite at the Bay Arena.

Paris Saint-German are very, very good.

Bayer Leverkusen, on the other hand, aren't. Neither is the Bundesliga this season, aside from Bayern Munich.

In a sport that can often times be complex or nuanced, Tuesday's Champions League round of 16 first leg wasn't. One team was just much better than the other.

It was clear that Bayer Leverkusen had no chance of staying with PSG from the opening kick. They couldn't string together passes, and before they could even think about testing Salvatore Sirigu, they were a goal down. Simon Rolfes gave the ball away in his own half and, with the Bayer defense running around like chickens with their heads cut off, Blaise Matuidi was in all alone to slot the opening tally.

Three minutes into the match and the scoreboard already reflected the gulf in quality between the two teams.

PSG didn't have to strain themselves at the Bay Arena. By the time Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a penalty in the 39th minute, he had sprinted maybe once in the match. He spent most of the contest trotting about, watching the match go by, and PSG were never worse for it. Then three minutes after he scored his first goal, he hit an absolute rocket from 20 yards into the top corner and had his second.

Two goals, maybe one sprint.

It would be easy to chalk that up to the brilliance of Ibrahimovic, and he is undoubtedly brilliant, but nobody else on PSG had to do much more. PSG's three defensive midfielder lineup could have been called cautious if they hadn't dominated the match simply by being more athletic than Bayer, terrorizing their opponent into countless turnovers with nothing more than their physicality.

The only Bayer man who looked to have any clue what he was doing was Emir Spahic, who was sent off in the 59th minute. When the defender was shown his second yellow card, he looked more like a smart man trying to get out of dodge than anything else as Bayer's raucous crowd had turned to one of silence, shock and awe about a half hour earlier.

Yohan Cabaye's 88th minute capper felt mean, as Bayer were already beaten and bloodied. The Bundesliga's second place team, full of some wonderful players like Heung-Min Son, Stefan Kiessling, Lars Bender and Rolfes, looked like they didn't belong as the gap between Europe's top tier and the also-rans proved to be just as big as the one between Bayern Munich and the rest of Germany.

Paris Saint-German made the Champions League quarterfinals a year ago, but although only away goals stood between them and ousting Barcelona, they never quite looked dominant. They struggled to top Porto in the group stage and Valencia in the round of 16, but that doesn't appear to be a concern this year. Benfica proved no match for the defending Ligue 1 champions as PSG cruised to the top of their group, and Bayer Leverkusen didn't even look like they belonged on the same pitch as them at the Bay Arena.

Next up for PSG will be finding their way to the semifinals where it's Barcelona, Chelsea, Bayern Munich or another of Europe's best who stand in their way, because they made it clear today that the rest of the continent needn't bother trying anymore.

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