It’s finally over. The much-hyped UEFA Champions League match between Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain ended 3-1 with Los Blancos taking the early advantage in the Round of 16 tie.
PSG manager Unai Emery made a series of questionable decisions with his starting lineup and continued to frustrate supporters with head-scratching in-game substitutions. On the latest episode of PSG Small Talk, host Marc Damon recaps the match but don’t expect an angry rant. Instead, he argues that what we saw is exactly what PSG has been for the last few seasons for one very important reason.
🔝 La composition parisienne 🆚 le @realmadrid ! 👊
📺 Match à suivre en exclusivité à 20h45 sur @beinsports_FR
— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_inside) February 14, 2018
Unlike Madrid and their Spanish rivals FC Barcelona, PSG has not shown the ability to switch to that next level mentally that is required to win a big Champions League match. When the game gets tight and one mistake will ultimately decide the winner, all too often, it’s PSG who make that fatal flaw. It doesn’t all come down to tactics. In fact, despite Emery’s bold decisions, the team played well enough to escape with a draw. It was after the 80th minute when the mental mistakes caused PSG to give up two late goals and make the job at the Parc des Princes in a few weeks that much more difficult.
As with any PSG match, Neymar Jr. was the primary focus of the media and as Damon discusses, he was good but not great and PSG needed him to be great. Kylian Mbappé was solid and played a major role in Adrien Rabiot’s opening goal in the first half but he was not outstanding either. The only player who you can say showed up is Alphonse Areola, who made several world-class saves to keep PSG in the game. Unfortunately, the moment was too much for youngster Giovani Lo Celso who appeared in over his head playing in the defensive midfielder role.
It’s a tough result for PSG to swallow but the Champions League dream is still alive. They’ll likely need two or three goals at the Parc on March 6 so it’s not mission impossible but it is mission really, really hard.
If you would like to send in a question or topic for discussion, email PSGSmallTalk@gmail.com and we may read it on the next podcast. As always, thank you for your support and please subscribe (iTunes | Google Play | Stitcher) and leave a review.