UEFA Champions League Round of 16

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Real Madrid.

Two powerhouses of European football faced in Paris as the Champions League knockout phase returned. The tie between the French and Spanish leaders in their respective championship was very anticipated by fans around the world. A full house I was in Paris to witness their greats Messi, Mbappe, Neymar, Benzema, Modrić, etc.. 

Real Madrid traveled to Paris with a clear defensive mindset hoping for counterattacks  And not allowing the Parisian offense to create chances and limiting opportunities. Goalkeeper Courtois saved a penalty from Leo Messi at the 60th minute and did everything in his power to preserve the 0-0 draw. But as the regular time was expiring, the French crack Kylian Mbappé scored the winning goal on the last game’s opportunity for PSG, his second in similar circumstances in less than a week. Mbappé is arguably the best player on the planet right now.

Reactions from each side.

PSG – coach Pochettino:

“I think it was amazing the performance, I am very pleased for the players. I think we deserved the victory. In the last minute, in the last action, it was good. But in that moment you only enjoy it for a few seconds, because in your mind it’s ‘ok in three weeks we have the next game.’ I think Real Madrid is an amazing team, a very good team and it’s always difficult to play there. But if we show this type of performance and this level I think we have to hope that we can be in the next stage. It’s important for us, for the confidence, and now we have three weeks to prepare for the game. I think it’s always better when you get this type of feeling, it’s always easier. The fans were fantastic and of course, it was amazing support and energy and the players were fantastic. That connection must always be on the pitch, always during 95 minutes because that is really, really powerful.”

Real Madrid – coach Ancelotti

We were made to suffer. We performed pretty well defensively. We weren’t very aggressive and failed to perform when in possession. We really struggled to overcome PSG’s press in our half and that’s why we didn’t create any clear-cut chances. We struggled to get out of our half and couldn’t get the ball out wide to Asensio and Vini Jr., whilst Karim didn’t have any chances to get on the ball. There’s no fancy explanation for it. That’s just how it played out. We didn’t perform as we wanted to in possession”.

Reason for optimism
“We now face the return leg back at our place and we haven’t got that concern about the away goals rule. That could end up helping us. Should we be optimistic? PSG clearly have a small advantage and I hope that it doesn’t prove enough in the game back at the Bernabéu. I’m optimistic because we’ll go out there with 11 players and 50,000 fans inside the Bernabéu. That’s why I’m optimistic”.