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What Paris need to do to reach the semi-finals

Laurent Blanc said Paris Saint-Germain must "be patient" as they bid for European success, but after their exit to FC Barcelona, Richard Martin feels time may not be the great healer.

See how Barcelona beat Paris to make semi-finals

A 2-0 defeat at FC Barcelona confirmed Paris Saint-Germain's third successive UEFA Champions League quarter-final exit, and although Laurent Blanc insisted the club need to "be patient" in their quest for European glory, the coach has plenty to do if his team are to finally get over the hurdle they keep stumbling at.

This was always going to be a difficult tie for Paris, who were without Zlatan Ibrahimović and Marco Verratti in the first leg, Thiago Silva in the second, and Serge Aurier and Thiago Motta in both games. However, even though Paris suffered remarkable misfortune with injuries and suspension, losing a quarter-final tie 5-1 on aggregate is a bitter blow for a club with their ambitions. More than anything, the result suggested a lack of depth in the squad, Paris perhaps unable to depend on reliable back-up in every position.

To his credit, Blanc avoided blaming elimination on key absences, instead lamenting his side's naivety in defence and their failure to take the few chances that came their way. Andrés Iniesta's run to set up Neymar's opener may have delighted the home supporters, but the freedom with which he was able to glide his way past Javier Pastore, Edinson Cavani and Yohan Cabaye will have Paris's players squirming in their seats when they sit down to watch the replay.

The visiting back line also came up way short for the second goal — Neymar was allowed to drift into the box untracked to head in a looping cross from Dani Alves, who met little resistance from Maxwell. These defensive vulnerabilities, added to Marquinhos' questionable positioning for Neymar's opening goal and David Luiz's inability to shackle Luis Suárez in the first leg, demonstrate that Paris still have a way to go before they can consider themselves among the very top teams in Europe. Blanc was happy to admit: "We weren't good enough defensively in the two legs."

Neymar's second goal at Camp Nou put the tie well beyond Paris' reach, but the visitors gave an admirable display after the break, creating six goalscoring chances, but neither Ibrahimović, Verratti, Lucas Moura nor Cavani could beat Marc Andre-Ter Stegen. Perhaps it was an off night, but Paris seemed to lack of fluidity in attack. Cavani looked uncomfortable playing on the right, as did Pastore on the left, with both players perhaps more productive playing through the middle.

Blanc may need to decide whether he can get the best out of his players in different positions; the concern is that making the step up from being one of the best eight teams in Europe to being one of the best four might demand much more radical action.

A downcast Zlatan Ibrahimović during the Camp Nou decider
A downcast Zlatan Ibrahimović during the Camp Nou decider©Getty Images
Marco Verratti faces up to Paris's elimination after the final whistle
Marco Verratti faces up to Paris's elimination after the final whistle©AFP/Getty Images
Edinson Cavani enduring Paris's defeat in Barcelona
Edinson Cavani enduring Paris's defeat in Barcelona©Getty Images
Laurent Blanc watches the final minutes of his side's UEFA Champions League campaign
Laurent Blanc watches the final minutes of his side's UEFA Champions League campaign©Getty Images

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