I’m not going to sugarcoat it, Paris Saint-Germain’s 2-1 loss to Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League absolutely sucked.
Not only did PSG lose, but they were outplayed by the Germans and the same old demons from the past continue to haunt the capital club.
Some supporters, like PSG Talk contributor Marc Damon, believes the tie is over. He’s likely not alone. Given the club’s history, they haven’t really given fans a reason to believe they can overturn this tie. I’m not in the camp though.
PSG has ZERO chance in the 2nd leg, don’t even kid yourselves. It’s not worth the mental energy. #BVBPSG
— Marc Damon (@MarcDamon1) February 18, 2020
I predicted a PSG win in the first game and I’m just as stunned by the result as everyone else. However, there are reasons to believe PSG can avoid their fourth-consecutive exit in the Round of 16.
In 2017, Paris Saint-Germain defeated FC Barcelona 4-0 at the Parc des Princes. In 2018, they beat the eventual champions, Liverpool FC, 2-1 at the Parc des Princes. In the group stage this season, PSG smashed Real Madrid 3-0 at home. There are more examples that lead you to believe PSG can come back from a 2-1 deficit in front of their home supporters than go scoreless or outright lose.
Dortmund’s away record isn’t great either this season. In the Bundesliga, they have a 4-3-4 record away from Signal Iduna Park and more importantly in this context, a 1-0-2 record in the Champions League when playing without their famous Yellow Wall backing them.
Dortmund’s best players are relatively new to the big stage and while they played mistake-free football in the first leg, you have to wonder if that luck will continue in the French capital
The Away Goal
Neymar Jr. scored a crucial away goal and he should have scored another if he didn’t hit the post instead towards the end of the match instead. PSG created very few chances at Dortmund so to escape with a goal is somewhat of a bonus and makes the task at the Parc a little less monumental.
PSG has only been shut out once this season at home, a 2-0 loss to Stade de Reims last September. In the Champions League group stage, PSG scored nine goals in three home matches.
Through three away matches for Dortmund in the Champions League, they managed to score a total of three goals. Obviously, Erling Haaland wasn’t there for those games but he’s never been to the Parc des Princes either.
After the match, Dortmund manager Lucien Favre said that he “anticipated PSG’s system.” If that’s the case, it’s time for Thomas Tuchel to switch things up and that means going with the 4-4-2 formation that he had worked on for months.
Thomas Tuchel spends 3-4 months developing a 4-4-2 shape only to abandon it tonight & resort to a shape that saw Verratti & Gueye positionally confused & Neymar trying to play quarterback with fiddly aerial through balls to nobody in particular as the only outlet going forward.
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) February 18, 2020
Prior to kickoff, Tuchel admitted that he went away from the “Fantastic Four” of Neymar, Kylian Mbappé, Mauro Icardi, and Angel Di Maria because some of those players lacked rhythm after being out due to injury.
Leading up to the return leg, I expect Tuchel to hone the 4-4-2 formation and make sure his stars are at an optimum fitness level. That way, even if Favre anticipates the formation, there’s very little his suspect defense can do when those four attackers are playing at the top of their game.
Mbappé and Neymar
The two PSG stars combined for the only goal of the match for the visitors but overall, they were disappointing. Neymar admitted to lacking fitness and Mbappé was far too isolated as the lone striker and the tactic of lobbing long passes to him didn’t really work.
It’s hard to imagine that those two players, as talented as they are, will be silenced for a second time against Dortmund.
While there are reasons to remain hopeful if you’re a PSG fan, the players have to want it just as bad. They are the more talented team but it’s time for them to step up and prove the naysayers wrong.
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