Paris Saint-star-studded Germain’s lineup demonstrates new potential by struggling to score and also losing 1-0.
This lavishly indulged sportswashing project maintained their nerve as a collective to exclude Bayern Munich from the Champions League in the most electrifying of knock-out ties.
The French champions not only avenged last season’s final, but they also arguably made strides after having already progressed too far. It’s possible that this was the first time they’ve beaten a super-club of comparable caliber since being acquired by Qatar. Mauricio Pochettino may have applied some kind of determination. Bayern Munich was unable to contribute to Eric’s tally. The debut of Maxim Choupo-Moting first-half strike, and went out 3-3 on away goals.
This was unquestionably more important and meaningful than the win over a weakened Barcelona.
Of course, the issue would be how diluted Bayern was, and whether things would have been different if Robert Lewandowski had been available.
But for PSG, the question is simply what comes next. Since knocking out the European champions, they would believe they can beat anybody and that they will be champions themselves
In a sporting event weighted by strategic sense, a grand match with Manchester City from Abu Dhabi may be on the cards.
A magnificent stress weighed heavily on this. For a long while, it seemed that this would be one of those games in which PSG should have won 4-1, but would instead – predictably – lose 2-0 to Bayern. Up until the final whistle, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar were flawless.
Since there wasn’t a goal every few minutes, all of the misses made it a perfect knock-out game in a more traditional sense. As a result, every moment was tinged with exhilarating anticipation, just like Champions League ties in the 1990s.
Since there were no targets, the next important moment meant much worse. That wasn’t the only difference.
Against PSG, Bayern’s attack seemed to be too leaden for long stretches of the game. The stars of the French champions were in high spirits, but they couldn’t bring the ball in the back of the net.
Mbappe was wreaking havoc every time he touched the ball, thanks to his supreme ball control.
His pace has such a pleasant smoothness to it. Mbappe took Pavard out of the game with mercurial action in the 10th minute, which Pavard couldn’t manage. It was the catalyst for so much of PSG’s positive play, and it should have resulted in a goal minutes later. Manuel Neuer, on the other hand, remained unflappable as Neymar scored.
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It was only one of the times that the Brazilian came dangerously close to scoring. He hit the bar and the post in a matter of minutes just before halftime. The effort that hit the crossbar was particularly opulent, as Neymar curled a divine effort around Neuer but only a fraction too far.
If all of these close calls make it seem that PSG should have been well ahead of the game, that was not the case. Bayern had the majority of the offensive action, but lacked the cutting edge in this contest.
When they got up to target without Lewandowski, there was more scruffiness, which is why their best attempts up to that point had been long-range. With a thunderous shot, David Alaba forced a superb save from Keylor Navas, before Leroy Sane could have done better with a second try from the edge of the box.
However, scuffiness was the best way to explain Choupo-target, Moting’s and it was just what was needed at the time.
It only seemed against the run of play because of Neymar’s efforts just before it, but it also only went against Bayern’s general bluntness. Choupo-Moting essentially pushed it over the finish line.
That was also just what the game called for, amplifying the suspense and stakes of something going on.
Bayern only required a goal, while PSG required safety.
The indulgent – almost lazy – essence of PSG’s play seemed to clash with the urgency of the game at times. Neymar and Di Maria were particularly eager to show off, but they didn’t have as much space to do so after another heartbreaking missed opportunity in the second half.
All of this contributed to the drama of the final stages, when it was difficult not to wonder whether PSG would rue those moments or, worse, if Bayern would be roused into action.
The German winners, on the other hand, were never frightened into panicked action, as is their custom. They continued to persevere as if it would only be a matter of time before the chance presented itself.
Time was running out, particularly with Neymar, Di Maria, and a slew of other PSG players collapsing at any chance to further interrupt the game’s flow.
Another stoppage occurred after Mbappe’s goal was called out for offside, which was more fortunate for Bayern.
It reflected the nature of the game. This was a dead heat that was determined by the tiniest of margins. What a different story it might have been if the frustrating Sane had chosen a different path for the crucial final move.
What a difference it makes for PSG.
It felt like a night as the team applied real football substance to so much else around the club by defeating the European champions.