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Initial Reactions: PSG 0 - 0 Real Madrid, Champions League

Denis Doyle/Getty Images

I'm going to test your memory here. Who remembers Miguel Palanca? In December 2008, Real Madrid traveled to the Nou Camp to face Barcelona in a Clasico without nearly their entire A-team. It was a night so dark, that Royston Drenthe was one of the main threats the team had at its disposal. Palanca - a player who later made a living playing in Australia and various Spanish minnows - came on as a substitute.

The depletion of tonight's squad due to injuries reminded me of that match. And with that, here are four quick points to take away from tonight's draw in Paris.
  1. This was a really impressive performance from Real Madrid. Perfect? No. But impressive. A quick glance at the starting eleven prior to kick-off and you could somewhat predict what kind of match it was going to be. Real Madrid were to play a defensively compact match while having limited opportunities in attack. Everyone in the white shirts fought valiantly though, and Real Madrid created many opportunities - proving to be the more dangerous side as the game progressed. Telling stat: At one point in the first half PSG had 65% possession - a number which regressed to 50% later in the half. Real Madrid grew.

    Not that possession is that conducive to results these days, but considering Modric was out for most of the game, Real Madrid held the ball better than expected.

  2. Marcelo - the eternal enigma, the player who will never change. In a match limited with flair in the attacking third, Marcelo is a key player who can create opportunities galore from the left wing. His flicks were eye-candy, and his crossing and dribbling from the left flank was giving Di Maria and Aurier all kinds of headaches. Defensively though, his brain-farts continue to be worrisome - always gambling in situations that concede chances. When I saw Lucas Moura come on to the pitch, I immediately knew Marcelo was going to struggle keeping him in front of him - which turned out to be true. You know who is the anti-Marcelo? Varane. Raphael freakin' Varane. Never lunging into challenges, eye always on the ball, staunch, composed. Need I go on? Varane was a monster tonight.

  3. These are the matches where you really realize the good Rafa brings to the table. This was, in truth, my favorite Rafa Benitez game thus far. It's these games that really test the resolve of the squad, and, Rafa had the team so disciplined in one of the toughest matches of the season. Well done. The defense truly is at an elite level. Can you sit through a season of low-scoring matches if it means Real Madrid's defense comes out on top in May? Rhetorical question.

  4. Aurier. If you think he's fast in real life, try playing with him in FIFA. He's unstoppable.

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