PSG stars Neymar Jr, Lionel Messi and Marco Verratti failed to create their magic against Bayern Munich (AFP Image)
PSG allowed Bayern Munich to control the game in the first half and had it not been for Sergio Ramos, the French giants might have conceded more goals in the round of 16 clash
Paris Saint-Germain vs Bayern Munich, a much-hyped contest which was supposed to be high-octane turned out to be an absolute dud.
The two powerhouses collided in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 where Bayern Munich edged past PSG with a nervy 1-0 win at Parc des Princes. It was a game where Christophe Galtier’s tactics failed miserably as the French Giants served the game on Bayern’s platter with their approach, especially in the first 60 minutes. Both the teams didn’t start with their star players as Kylian Mbappe and Thomas Muller came off the bench in the second half.
Bayern also missed the likes of Manuel Neuer and Sadio Mane who are still recovering from their respective injuries.
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Galtier started 16-year-old Warren Zaire-Emery in the starting line-up which came out as a shocker for many as Fabian Ruiz and Vitinha were put on the bench. Emery became the youngest player to play in the Champions League, however, it didn’t go down well for him on the field. The young midfielder misplaced a couple of crucial passes and failed to add pace in the game which was much required as PSG relied on counter-attacking football in the first half completely.
The home side surprisingly started the game on backfoot as Bayern dominated the possession which pushed back PSG as their four-player midfield line was way back in the quest to stop the opposition from scoring. The defensive line comprising Marquinhos, Sergio Ramos, Achraf Hakimi and Nuno Mendis was very compact to stop the Bayern attackers. Fullbacks – Mendes and Hakimi – weren’t able to make the runs as a result PSG lacked creativity in the first half.
Lionel Messi, who started alongside Neymar as a forward, played more like a midfielder as the assigned ones lacked creativity. Messi tried to make some quick runs with his typical shoulder-drop skills but Bayern had a simple plan against him – Foul. Matthijs de Ligt and Benjamin Pavard fouled him on numerous occasions with a majority intentional to prevent the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner from making an impact.
However, Messi dropped in the midfield and managed to produce a couple of key passes but there was no Mbappe in the starting line-up to take advantage of. He had a late chance to score the equalizer but the shot hit Pavard and ball was deflected over the net.
Neymar had a poor outing as he failed to add much on the field and struggled with pace on a couple of crucial occasions. The Brazilian didn’t look his best, didn’t cause much trouble with his dribbling – which is a major asset of his game. He was also fouled several times like Messi.
However, it was more of Galtier’s failure who failed to adapt in Mbappe’s absence. PSG lacked pace throughout in the first half as Hakimi and Mendes failed to make runs. It won’t be fair to blame Emery for not showing much maturity considering his age and experience.
Players like Carlos Soler had opportunities to cause some trouble at flank but lack of pace pulled PSG back once again.
If it was not for Sergio Ramos, PSG might have conceded more goals.
Kingsley Coman haunted his former club once again with a goal in the 53rd minute and there is no denying accepting that it was a complete howler from Gianluigi Donnarumma who failed to hold on to the shot which was hit almost directly towards him.
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Mbappe was put on the field in the 57th minute, the Frenchman took only a few minutes to get settled as the gameplay that PSG was trying to execute actually suited him the most and not the starters. The young superstar caused some trouble from the left flank and even found the net twice but both goals were ruled off-side.
PSG charged up in the final minutes and created several chances but Bayern made sure they end up the game with the advantage despite a red card to Pavard for a foul on Messi.
Considering the French side’s poor show, The Bavarians should have scored more.
In the first half, Bayern focussed more on the build-up which didn’t allow players like Leroy Sane and Jamal Musiala to free up more as PSG were too defensive in their box. Their approach was to put the ball on Joao Cancelo’s feet on the right side of the pitch and rely on the Portuguese to create some magical passes inside the box for Coman and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
Four-time UCL winner with Real Madrid – Sergio Ramos turned up in the mega clash as he defended once again like a warrior and he comfortably stopped the likes of Sane and Musiala who are relatively young and carry a lot of pace in their game.
Bayern have an advantage after the first half but the tie is still wide open as PSG will be expected to travel to Allianz Arena with a fit MNM (Messi, Neymar, Mbappe) trio but Gatlier has to surely re-work his tactics to outclass the German Giants and move forward in the competition. He has to find a way to allow the midfield to move the fall freely which was nowhere to be seen in the first leg.
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