the first leg of UEFA Champions League quarter-final matches suggested fairly entertaining and breath-taking cases and simply underlined the most exciting and surprising outcomes when deciding the semi-finalists at the end of this round. the promising game of the Wednesday night involved another challenge for French Champions against English top flight side, PSG hosted Man City at Parc Des Princes on the road to their dream of European glory, but they instead played a disappointing and questionable game with even little luck to survive a 2-2 draw at the end. Manchester City have shown a confident and right attitude to fight their top opponent from the very beginning and enjoyed a positive and crucial team performance with reward of two away goals before the second leg. Manuel Pellegrini defined strength and harmony at his 4-2-3-1 formation with consistent pressing intensity in the red zone to frustrate PSG possession game, while offering his midfield line to provide high mobility to track spaces when switching to transition in attack more ambitiously in relaying of technically gifted players like Silva, De Bruyne and Aguero going high up the pitch. David Silva has became a brilliant maestro to orchestrate attacking movements with his pure skills vision as a central creator in deeper role to dictate the pace of midfield or as a lying joint-striker knowing for being a “Central auxiliary winger” behind the target man, in the way he performed in Paris behind Sergio Augero with plenty of possession to generate constantly in going forward. the Spaniard sensationally excelled in this position as a world class star during his spell with Man City to interact and coordinate best possession play from midfield to attack in a unique way. the chemistry between him and Kevin De Bruyne and Aguero as wide strikers on the flanks to interchange play and splitting a killing pass either when the Belgian drifting inside to hold the ball and switching with Aguero operating wide to break oppositions, highly is developed to entertain and making impacts. every time these three players were sparking neat passing and dribbling play exposed PSG holding role passers Thiago Motta and Rabiot to precise change of passing and causing them to be disjoint in winning off the ball for the lose spaces, the main factor among why the French side struggled to dictate their possession game plan in the midfield unlike other times and it often appeared to be their fear of losing the match overall. with limited response to track City’s rhythmic play from pressing to fluid transition, PSG backline were chasing desperately to link their passing, but Angel Di Maria single handedly pushed over the flanks to ignite fluid passing exchanges with both Ibrahimovich and Cavani when producing his mazy runs to raid at the defenders with so much flair and dynamic combination plays to keep some options available for his team to control their passing, but to inconsistent extent it lacked the essential end-product. the host evidently became passive to operate effective play in the midfield but still could sparked a needed flash of flair through Angle Di Maria’s dazzling run to pull out Man City’s compact back line on the wings and soon one of those attempts earned the a penalty kick. Di Maria’s cross shot played from left and fallen to David Luis when got to minor touch off the defender, Sagna clearance and as Luis attempted to cut inside of his right foot, he was fouled by the Chelsea’s man. Ibrahimovich stepped up but his shot was perfectly saved by Joe Hart diving at his right and it really put some tears into heart of PSG bench for eventual crisis. they were gifted another chance however in the 24th minutes when Fernando’s short play in the center of the field was intercepted by Motta and he released a clear pass deep into City’s exposed defense for Ibrahimovich with only having Joe Hart to beat, but his attempt went little too high and they tasted the pain soon when visitors scored. Matuidi was robbed off by Clichy in the midfield and it turned to Fernandinho as he sprinted forward and his wide pass to De Bruyn’s charging open run on the right entirely beaten David Luis sluggish positioning and Belgian star smashed his low range shot into the net and given visitors a deserved lead for their sharp play, but it was whipped out immediately through a goofy defensive play. Fernando’s attempted pass on the edge of the box when trying to switch it wide with a closed eyes deflected off the Ibrahimovich press and went into the net, the scene could be simply compared to Play-Station game with kids guiding the remote, nothing close to a real football play, but the host leveled and that goal virtually enhanced their hope to control the match in the second half and they took the lead on the hour mark. Di Maria’s corner from left was headed by Cavani to drew a save from Joe Hart it at his near post, but Rabiot finished the empty net in the rebound for a promising night. Di Maria’s brilliant run with exemplified skills and his combination with Ibra to turn and create more effective passing movements provided them more mobility to open up spaces and creating brilliant overlap plays on the wing in nearly next 15 minutes of the match as it looked they might would control their destiny in nearly scoring the third, Rabiot neat combination on the right with Di Maria allowed Argentine to send in a cross for Ibra to make a powerful header that deflected off the post and Cavani’s half acrobatic volley on the rebound went over the bar before returning the sign of fear when they struggled to keep up with visitor’s attacking flair and conceded an equalizer. after Motta lost possession in the midfield, Clichy’s quick touch turned to Silva as he played Jesus Navas on the right flank, the Spaniard precisely set up Mangala with a fine overlap and his short center ball easily caused both Serge Aurier and Thiago Silva with a poor clearance reaction and allowed Fernando to finish it into the lower near post and English side played a solid and effective football to deny their host any chance of winning the game, boosting so much confidence before the second leg at home with exciting hope of breaking into the semi-final of this season, an incredible achievement that very few could expected of them in this European competition.
PSG Verdict: it was realistically a critical performance by the French champion on the night in front of their optimistic home fans. they faced a problematic tactical strategy against their opponent’s sharp and confidence game plan in defense particularly, when being denied to spark crucial pace to create in the final third and repeatedly being overplayed by City’s mobility when facing their pressing. the visitors mainly monitored the midfield when pressing timely and regaining it in the transition, while going forward more ambitiously in relying of Silva’s pure technical ability and passing accuracy to combine with De Bruyn and Aguero whom are technically capable of creating chances up front and caused PSG with many problems and fear throughout the game and rewarded when scored the opening. if it wasn’t because of silly mistake by Fernando when conceding an equalizer, Lauren Blanc side arguably could have been hit a major blow to survive even a draw at home then with more fear of exiting at this stage of tournament like three previous seasons. the performance of PSG’s back line was essentially poor in monitoring defensive positions against City’s creative attackers, constantly struggled to provide effective transition from deep and ultimately losing their lead. Thiago Silva underlined one of his weakest games this season and maybe in last few seasons, where his usual understanding and man-marking play in partnership with full-backs disappeared in most of the occasions and most notably vanished their winning hope when he reacted poorly to City’s second goal. David luis also was far from his best nights, his tendency to initiate move out of central defense to opening passes when team switched from pressing in the midfield had seen him losing the track of spaces during opponent’s rapid change of attacking point and prevented him from effective pressing duties and it affected their defensive display overall. on the positive note, Di Maria produced a vital flair and pace to ignite some crucial movements in the PSG’s attack at the time they were desperately seeking a break-through play and his dazzling touch across the flanks allowed more options for Ibrahimovich to involve and create some effective chances up front, but his productive service was ultimately vanished for lack of the host’s collective approach. they need to produce a far sharper attacking game plane in the second leg if they aim to inspire their hope of reaching semi-final when playing at City’s home stadium, the expectation will be enourmousely huge for Ibrahimovich to produce a winning play, which he significantly failed to do so at home, specially he could be blamed for missing the penalty kick prior to visitor’s first goal, which would have given the PSG a chance to win the match, but instead they struggled after that.
Manchester City Verdict: the English side produced a fearless and intelligent tactical strategy to press their host in defense throughout the night to save a crucial away draw ahead of the second leg. their resiliency to challenge their host attacking mechanism instead increased their ambition to go forward with more confidence of winning enough spaces to control the ball. their creative players like Silva and De Bruyn inspired several attacking ideas to break and score against their host consistently, their ideal change of pace from pressing to flanks in the midfield in a great balance with two central holding midfields backing Silva as a play-maker in advance position, strategically revealed their desirable presence of three strikers, two operating wide and Aguero pushing centrally with constant switching the run to maintain the possession with more purpose, they punished PSG repeatedly and sealed a crucial away goals and now have a glorious opportunity to secure their historic semi-final birth in this competition for the first time.
in the second leg perhaps two players will be the sole inspiration to their team’s success; Silva for Manchester City and Di Maria for PSG to produce glimpse of creativity and game-winning play in this highly equal contest. despite struggling to control the vital attacking game plan collectively, Di Maria appeared to be menace in the midfield with his mazy runs and delightful movements to keep his team alive to fight all the way to the end, he is absolutely capable of changing the scenario for them under pressure of English fans and possibly City’s all around offensive side to inspire the French side their long-lasting hope of becoming one of Europe’s elite boys by reaching the semi-final finally. as a team they must underline their defensive weaknesses for making better reactions and helping the argentine leading the attack with fierce enthusiasm and quality. Ibrahimovich will be the pivotal storyline in this ever-lastingly dualism of being underachiever star in the world’s most prestigious club competition, while individually; joining the list of legendary footballers of modern era at the back of his pure trademarks, therefore; this is his realistically last chance to win the European prize with PSG after dominating the French league in the past four years. the failure to reach the semi-final would consider the end of his dream of European glory to be ranked among Messi and Ronlado, while if they book their passage to the next round, he will be more determine to relish flame of genuine shot at the glory. it is very hard to undermine the likely outcome of this duel, but based on the evidences of the first leg and weapons available to both teams along with increased line of pedigree, this time PSG will find a way through the last four with a little luck at the end.