There is no question that Real Madrid deserved to win the first leg of 16 in the UEFA Champions League. Paris Saint-Germain were outplayed, and significantly out coached at the Santiago Bernabeu. Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player in the history of the UEFA Champions League to score 100 goals for the same club.
Isco Alarcon completed all 38 of his passes in the first half against Paris Saint-Germain. Marcelo Vieira became directly involved in more goals than any other La Liga defender in 2018 across all competitions (two goals and three assists). Real Madrid played the best they have all season.
Some believed Paris Saint-Germain were going to overcome and beat Real Madrid, rightfully so. Real Madrid is in an unfavorable position to win the La Liga title and was knocked out of the Copa del Rey. Contrarily, Paris Saint-Germain has been dominant across all competitions yet they could not get it done at the Santiago Bernabeu.
However, that is not to say chances were not created and there were a few questionable calls from the referee. The foul on Toni Kroos was very generous and Ronaldo was able convert it to a point.
Neymar has completed 13/17 dribbles, the highest total in the Champions League this season however, it’s not about dribbles it’s about goals and Ronaldo was able to cancel out Adrien Rabiot’s goal. One from the spot in response to a foolish Giovanni Lo Celso mistake and one just from being in the right place at the right time. Additionally, with a flash of brilliance from Marcelo the story was written and Real Madrid rose to the occasion.
Under Zinédine Zidane, Real Madrid have won 10 out of 14 UEFA Champions League knockout games and have lifted the trophy twice in consecutive seasons (2016 and 2017). This past Tuesday, Zidane showed his prestige and class by making a crucial game time decision to sub in Marco Asensio and Gareth Bale.
Unai Emery is another story altogether. Where Zidane took a chance putting in offensive minded players (Asensio and Bale), Emery took out Cavani for Muenier and kept Lo Celso in the match until it was too late (later subbed off for Draxler). Lo Celso was making too many mistakes to be on the field for as long as he was. There was also controversy around the fact that Thiago Silva was dropped for Presnel Kimpembe. Marquinhos and Areola were Paris Saint-Germain’s saving grace.
The competition is far from over however. Rabiot’s goal in the 33rd minute was significant. Paris Saint-Germain would only need to win 2-0 at the Parc des Princes to move on to the next round and with their roster, it’s not impossible. The question therein lies, is Unai Emery going to be able to make the appropriate coaching decisions to put them in the best position to win?
Paris have only eliminated Real Madrid in 2 previous knockout encounters (1992/93 UEFA Cup and 1993/94 Cup Winners Cup) – both of those times were in the quarter finals. We are in for an exhilarating series that will be decided on March 6th.
Do you think Real Madrid will go onto the next round? Comment below and share your thoughts!