Manchester City suffocates PSG in champions league semifinal
It was hard not to notice the symbolism or statement about two teams in the Champions League final that belong to entities so wealthy that they don’t mind the Super League. PSG have never joined and Manchester City were the first to come out after joining in nothing more than a shrug. But that has to be studied at another time.
What is this semi-final for sure was a meeting of two super clubs still lacking validation of a European Cup. While City have dominated the Premier League for most of the decade now, and PSG have destroyed the European elite’s penthouse around the same time, both of their reigns have felt a bit empty, especially for them. . Both yearned for a Champions League win to seal their place among the game’s elite, and perhaps a thumbs up in the eyes of the former silver clubs who have for so long sought to keep them out of society. secret. City have hired Pep Guardiola for this specific task, and PSG have scoured several managers in hopes the next one will provide them with the fix they have always pursued.
It will be City who will have the chance to come out of the ranks of the non-crown this year, as they have simply stifled PSG for three quarters. of the semi-final to eliminate 4-1 winners in total. Maybe it wasn’t that close. And PSG will spend the summer wondering how it could have been different if they had just had the backbone that Guardiola instilled in City.
Because after 45 minutes last week, it was PSG who looked the most swagger. They were much better than City, then took a 1-0 lead at halftime and probably should have scored one or two more goals. And that’s where it ended. PSG just wanted to defend and hold that goal and, more importantly, not concede an away goal. PSG might have thought they were built for this after last year’s race to the final. But holding Atalanta and RB Leipzig after the reboot at a neutral venue for a game in August is a little different than trying to make it to the best team in the world (and that’s no longer a debate, if ever it is. has been,) on two legs.
PSG never seemed comfortable trying to defend themselves and against, because both take steel and confidence. It’s not just the conviction of defending against a fascinating array of attacking talent, and following runners and discipline to know when to get the ball and when not to. It’s the belief that you can play through City’s press trying to get the ball back, that you can take the extra time to open them up and have all the space in the world to block and not give the ball away.
PSG could not do either. Kylian Mbappe barely had contact, Neymar couldn’t navigate the city’s swarm of pressers, Angel Di Maria is missing. PSG ultimately conceded two goals and ended the proceedings in Paris with Idrissa Gueye picking up a petulant, reckless, stupid and selfish red card.
For the second leg today, City were only too happy to show PSG where they went wrong and what they couldn’t do. Guardiola may never get all the credit for the masterful manager he is, given the resources he has. But his transformation of that city team into the Walls of Troy to combat the overloaded schedule is nothing short of genius. City are more than happy to defend, to push back whatever PSG had to throw at them. They are not afraid of not having the ball. You only need to see the way their defenders celebrated blocked shots as if they were objectives to be known.
And City never lacked the courage to play through a press, that’s how they opened PSG like a can of tuna to mark its first match. City have never dodged the challenge. Rid of Mbappe by injury, Neymar was again overwhelmed, Di Maria disappeared and Mauro Icardi a non-entity. It was the football version of the big brother who kept his hand on the little brother’s forehead while the too short arms of this little brother were shaking. The city has hardly ever been threatened.
And PSG ended the process with Angel Di Maria picking up a petulant, reckless, selfish and stupid red card (which unfortunately gave rise to quite sectarian comments CBS analyst Jim Beglin he had to apologize for for the waves not 10 minutes later).
PSG perhaps should have learned the lesson from the quarter-final, when they did not defend so brilliantly as they took advantage of the injury of Robert Lewandowski and Bayern Munich having only inflatable car mates as replacements. The city has no such problems.
PSG have always felt that this was an expensive collection of great players, but not a cohesive unit. Guardiola and City showed them what it would look like.