PSG 1-0 Real Madrid
PSG defeated Real Madrid by a lone Kylian Mbappe goal in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League round-of-16 tie at the Parc des Princes. The French club battled past a Lionel Messi penalty miss with Thibaut Courtois looking imperious. Mbappe’s individual effort in the final minute of the game won the tie. As usual, PSG dominated possession yet looked heavy and bereft of ideas. They needed a moment of inspiration from Mbappe. Mauricio Pochettino is still struggling to create a well-gelled team with this side, but this was a great win for him. Real Madrid looked uncharacteristically poor across the 90. They were flat-out bad and were dealt a deserved knockout blow in the dying minute. Carlo Ancelotti‘s tactics were horrid and he paid the price.
We note five things we observed as PSG took on Real Madrid.
This is Kylian Mbappe’s PSG
With Lionel Messi in decline and Neymar hurting from injuries, this PSG team is led (offensively) by Kylian Mbappe. His dribbling gave them the impetus. He also offered the penetration that PSG lacked. And even when Messi dropped the ball by missing his penalty, it was the prince of Paris that stepped up. He dazzled past Lucas Vazquez and Eder Militao (after torturing Dani Carvajal all night long) before slotting past Thibaut Courtois. What audacity! What ability!
This is why Florentino Perez is doing everything to bring him to Santiago Bernabeu. He is that guy! One of the best players in the world right now if not the very best. The 23-year-old decided a top game like this on his own with mesmerizing quality to boot. What a special player!
PSG need to invest money in a world-class striker
It has been ages since Lionel Messi won the Ballon d’Or playing as a false nine, but he had to do it again against Real Madrid. It meant that the very ball-centric PSG team held the ball for long spells without any penetration. Kylian Mbappe offered that willingness to push beyond the last line, but it was not enough. Angel di Maria and Messi wanted the ball to feet in front of the defense. So did Leandro Paredes and Marco Verratti. PSG had 62% possession and one shot on target at the end of the first half. The Paris club needs to add dynamic attackers that want to attack the goal.
No away goals suck, bring it back!
Real Madrid conceded possession to PSG despite having Luka Modric and Toni Kroos on the pitch. Carlo Ancelotti set up his team in a low block away from home as they closed spaces and tried to hit their opponents on the counter. They barely mustered anything going forward. Although this could be down to poor tactics, it signals conservation that would not have been a wise decision if the recently-scrapped away goal rules were in play. The rules used to give away teams more incentive to attack, but Madrid wanted none of that at the Parc des Princes. They parked in front of their defense to keep their opponents away. Several critics pointed to the rules as the reason. It looks so.
Real Madrid looked so poor and Carlo Ancelotti’s tactics are to blame
Los Blancos were atrocious in Paris. They gave up possession and any impetus. Real Madrid looked toothless and Carlo Ancelotti did nothing about it. They had no shot on target after 90 minutes of football. His aged midfield is better when with the ball yet, he set them up to chase the ball throughout the game. That played into Marco Verratti’s hands. The Italian maestro put in another magical UCL performance in the center. He danced and swerved around as they struggled to pick him up. Ancelotti’s tactics were poor. Even when PSG were bereft of ideas, Madrid couldn’t conjure up much because of how deep they were and how good the pressing was. Poor tactics and refused to change things even when it was quite obvious from the first half that things were going wrong.
Thibaut Courtois might be the best keeper in the world
Time and time again, the big Belgian saves Real Madrid. The 6ft6 goalie made 3 important saves that kept Los Blancos in the tie. The first was a 1v1 against Mbappe that he won. In the second half, he made a sharp diving save the keep out the French club. However, the pick of the bunch came when he stopped Messi’s tame penalty. He has been in phenomenal form since the 19/20 season. The 29-year-old has saved three of the four penalties he has faced this season. Take a bow!