The big question coming into the mouth-watering clash between PSG and Real Madrid was the fitness levels of Karim Benzema - would he be able to start this match? He would. He would end up playing 87 minutes and contributed very little. Carlo Ancelotti made no major tactical tweaks: trusting the CMK midfield, slotting in Asensio on the right, and relying on his steady back four. The game plan was to sit in a low block and counter, but the team failed to execute and Ancelotti failed to adjust. Full match player ratings below:
✅ Our starting XI @PSG_English! #UCL pic.twitter.com/ka4Wh52oxo— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) February 15, 2022
Thibaut Courtois—8.5: Did everything he could to try and keep a clean sheet. Had a total of 8 saves, 3 of which were inside the box. Saved Carvajal’s blushes by coming up huge for a penalty save on Messi. Distribution on goal kicks could have been better, opting for a long pass which often never reached it’s target.
Dani Carvajal—1: A nightmare performance for the Cantera product. Mbappe vs Carvajal was total mismatch with the Frenchman dominating the Spaniard in 1 v 1 confrontations. Physically Mbappe blew through Carvajal with ease. Went in for a rash challenge, inside the box, with a penalty rightfully called with his challenge on Mbappe. Looked far below the level required for a match of this magnitude. Was substituted out of the game in the second half.
Eder Militao—9: A titan and a saving grace for Real Madrid. Was one of the few players who could compete with Mbappe defending him 1 v 1. Made countless last-ditch tackles to prevent dangerous opportunities for PSG. Can leave Paris with his head held high.
David Alaba—6.5: Some crucial tackles and well-timed interceptions to deny PSG opportunities through the middle. One disappointment was his aversion to play progressive passes, opting for the safe pass to Thibaut Courtois time and time again.
Ferland Mendy—2: Struggled anytime he was pressed. Coughed up the ball with ease and never knew what he was going to do before he got the ball — taking too long to make a decision. Was tortured by the movement of Achraf and Di Maria. Received a yellow card for a late tackle on Danilo and will miss the second leg.
Casemiro—6: One of the few decent performers on the night. Seemed to be in the right spot and the right time on most defensive interventions. Timed tackles against Messi and Achraf with perfection. Finished the game with a joint-high (alongside Militao) 4 completed tackles. Had one poor giveaway to Mbappe that nearly led to a goal.
Luka Modric—4: Lost the duel vs Verratti. The Italian was one of the best players on the pitch, while Modric failed to ever get going in this match.
Toni Kroos—4.5: When both Kroos and Modric were mis-hitting passes and failing to really get control of the ball, Madrid knew they would be in for a long night.
Vinicius Junior—3: Was shackled with far too much defensive responsibilities in the first half. Timed his tackles well, but both he and Mendy failed to communicate when to pass on their marks and struggled with the ying-yang runs of Di Maria and Achraf. On the offensive end, went down looking for fouls far too often and the referee was not having any of it. Danilo and Achraf denied Vinicius any space and he failed to impose his will on the game.
Marco Asensio—1: Offered nothing in the final third. Played passes over the top to no one, cut inside but only moved the ball laterally behind Mendy’s front foot, registered 0 shots, 0 key passes, 0 completed dribbles, 1 cross (not accurate), loss nearly all of his ground duels, and was dribble past twice.
Karim Benzema—2.5: Should not have been playing this game as he was clearly still feeling the effects of his injury. Aside from one nice bit of a skill in the first half, received little service and provided little value as target man / defensive reference.
Lucas Vazquez—3: Gave Mbappe too much space and respect while defending before the game winning goal.
Fede Valverde—6: For the brief period he was on the field, felt like Fede brought the legs and energy needed to compete in this match.
Eden Hazard—5: A few good flicks, but otherwise quiet with some misplaced passes.
Rodrygo Goes—5: More active than Asensio but couldn’t get past Nuno Mendes 1 v 1.
Gareth Bale—N/A: 87th minute substitution for Benzema