Paris Saint Germain vs Real Madrid was probably the most anticipated tie in Champions League Round of 16 and it luckily kicked off the CL Knockouts as well. Messi against his arch rivals having duels with Casemiro, Mbappe against a club he’ll probably play for next season and so many other fancy superstars match ups, this match was hyped since a long time. But not many would’ve expected that it’ll fail to live up to it’s hype especially from the Real Madrid’s side. Here are 5 things that we can take away from this tie.
- Mbappe is an absolute superstar – The best Paris Saint Germain player on the pitch by some distance. Kylian Mbappe came up big when his striking counterparts were not supporting him as it was expected from them. He drilled a very early fantastic chance for Angel Di Maria which the Argentine missed on his preferred left foot, tested Dani Carvajal all the time from that left wing, won the penalty which Lionel Messi eventually missed and at the end scored a very well deserved goal gliding like hot butter from Lucas Vasquez, Eder Militao and beating the best Madrid player on the pitch Thibaut Courtois. Other than these key moments he was a complete package on the field. Creating chances, tracking back, exploiting space for Left Back Nuno Mendes at times, Kylian Mbappe deservedly got the “Man Of The Match” award as well. The hottest property in footballing world has given his audition for the Royal White club in Madrid. Where will this end ? Only time will tell.
2. Carlo Ancelotti got his tactics wrong – A spineless effort especially in attack, a lot of credit for this below par performance of Madrid goes to their boss. It looked like he was playing for a draw from minute 1, making his team to sit behind and wait for counter attacks to exploit PSG, but that was highly unlikely considering PSG having the flashy combo of fullbacks in Achraf Hakimi and Nuno Mendes. He played Modric and Kross in midfield instead of workhorses like Camavinga and Valverde and then made a low block to stop the attacking flair of PSG while most of the fans after seeing the line up expected Madrid to nullify the press of PSG with the help of technicians like Modric and Kroos as the duo masterly did it vs Liverpool in Quarter Finals of CL last year. His ideology seemed to clash with his starting 11 on pitch. Considering the fact that Valverde’s substitution really made the difference in final 15 mins. Would it have been better if Valverde would’ve started instead of Kross/Modric ?
3. Was Neymar’s injury a blessing in disguise to this game ? – Neymar last played in November and it was 2.5 months since he came in. Pochettino, already having a flamboyance in his attack didn’t risk Neymar and played Angel Di Maria instead which proved out to be a blessing in disguise for the French Champions. Di Maria was exceptional with his work rate today as he helped to nullify the attacking transitions which Madrid tried to make by tracking back almost everytime. He along with Achraf Hakimi formed a fantastic duo and nullified Madrid’s great star Vinicius Junior on the left flank. The attacking might not been par his standards but he certainly redeemed his part with his workrate, something PSG won’t have been able to create with Neymar on the pitch.
4. Was Madrid’s attack their main reason was loss ? – The Boss can get his tactics wrong with the types of midfielders chosen but the attack’s and midfield’s attacking prowess were poor as per their standards set this season especially in La Liga. Ball progressions were non existent, there was a struggle to stitch even 3-4 passes together, even Kroos and Modric were poor for the exemplar passing range they possess, the skills and dribbles were corrosive, the fullbacks in defence were good but in terms of attacking threat not even a single thing was done worth having a shout. Overall, Madrid should’ve lost this game by a bigger margin but an inspired Thibaut Courtois kept them in the game along with gutsy defence keeping it’s shape and being compact but in terms of attack it was a total failure considering Real Madrid managed only 2 shots in entire match and out of those a grand total of ZERO were on target.
5. Advantage Paris Saint Germain ? – In fact a huge advantage going into the Bernabeu. Casemiro and Mendy are suspended for the 2nd leg, a goal’s lead is there’s, Karim Benzema was struggling allegedly due to fitness issues, Hakimi is in top notch form all inspired to keep Vinicius sush yet again, Neymar and Sergio Ramos will probably be back for 2nd What else can you ask ? Life’s good as a PSG Fan.