PSG beat Real Madrid 3 - 0 (Di Maria x2, Meunier). Here’s our quick reaction. Still to come: Player ratings, post-game podcast, and tactical review.
From start to finish, there was little control from Real Madrid — nor was there ever any real defensive comfort against a PSG side that lacked their star attacking trident, but didn’t lack organization and efficiency on both ends of the field.
Real Madrid had problems throughout. In their build-up, they rarely crossed the final third. Thomas Tuchel got his defensive shape perfect. There were long sequences in this game where Real Madrid had laboured possession that recycled its way around the backline and in between midfielders who’d drop deep to show as an outlet. The play would routinely end in a long ball prayer that was picked off with ease.
Eden Hazard was isolated into taking touches in traffic on the left hand side. He was denied space all game.
Defensively, Zidane opted not to press high. The team defended in a 4-4-1-1, with James just behind Benzema, and the team hedged off of PSG’s ball-carriers. They also failed to zip up channels behind the midfield, with players routinely missing their defensive rotations or closing the wrong passing lanes. PSG didn’t attack often, but when they brought the ball forward, they broke Real Madrid’s lines with a few passes and off-ball movements. Twice Kroos and James looked at each other, almost alternating their defensive mistakes and confusion, while the other pressed and left a dangerous passing lane open behind them.
On the first goal conceded, no one tracked Di Maria’s run into the box. No words needed for Courtois conceding at the near post:
Ángel Di María gives #PSG the lead against his former club. Well-worked move down the left with Icardi and Bernat, and then Di María beat Courtois at the near post.#PSGRMA #UCLpic.twitter.com/CPtzAUYqfp— Joga Bonito (@Jasoninho10) September 18, 2019
Di Maria’s second goal — beautiful, to be sure — was unchallenged at the top of the box:
Real Madrid weren’t completely lifeless in this game. They had a few dangerous offensive sequences — all coming off the back of winning the ball in dangerous areas. On one instance if was Benzema who dropped deep to steal possession and start an attack; on others, a PSG giveaway fell to James, who made quick, incisive vertical passes to teammates in good positions. Bale came close from a free-kick, scored a goal that was disallowed for a handball, and then stung a shot just over the net when Keylor was caught out.
But this was a game that spiralled for Zidane’s men. With each passing minute, a comeback looked less and less likely. Despite a spell of possession in the second half that ultimately led to nothing with how well PSG’s shape held up — and, if we’re counting, Benzema had a header at the far post that went just wide, as well as a goal disallowed because Lucas Vazquez interfered from an offside position — Real offered nothing. There were a few positive individual performances which we’ll gloss over on tonight’s podcast — but that certainly won’t be the focus of discussion. It was a lifeless second half in particular, and Bale, the main attacking threat in the first half, was a ghost in the second.
PSG could’ve added a third well before they actually finally did at the end of the game, where the team had fallen apart completely.
We’ll break this down more in the coming hours.