BACK IN YOUR BOX

Pathetic pretenders PSG put in their place by the true kings of Europe

Dominating Ligue 1 is all well and good but Unai Emery's side were taught a lesson by the kings of Europe

There won’t be much sympathy for PSG this morning.

The mega-rich superstar hoarders of European football want nothing more than to prove themselves worthy of being mentioned in the same breath the world’s most prestigious clubs.

Last night, Real Madrid condemned them to another year of being labelled flat-track bullies.

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The fans put on a show but the players did not rise to the occasion

A 2-0 win would have been enough for the hosts to progress to the quarter-finals but amid the flare smoke, they flattered to deceive on the European stage once again.

Credit must go to the visitors.

With Luka Modric ruled out and Toni Kroos only fit enough for 20 minutes, Zinedine Zidane was tasked with seeing out the tie without the two players most suited for the occasion.

Zizou has been heavily criticised for his tactics this season; all the more reason for him to bask in praise now.

His use of Lucas Vazquez and Marco Asensio in a 4-4-2 formation from days gone by proved ultra effective, with the former’s industry and the latter’s invention working wonders out wide.

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Worthy of the badge

Casemiro and Mateo Kovacic pressed Marco Verratti and Adrien Rabiot, meaning PSG lacked a midfielder to link the play to the forwards.

The in-form Angel Di Maria, supposedly motivated by the prospect of beating his former club, was rendered anonymous.

Edinson Cavani’s goal was the only time the ball fell for him all evening and both Dani Carvajal and Marcelo excelled up against the raw talent of Kylian Mbappe.

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Passed with flying colours

There was a goal for Cristiano Ronaldo of course; a trademark header to extend his run of scoring in every Champions League fixture this season.

It was far from a sucker punch, PSG may have enjoyed the majority of possession up until the opening goal but Real had the situation under control from the off.

Verratti’s stupidity saw him dismissed for dissent, PSG’s mentality encapsulated in one moment of madness.

The visitors unleashed a flurry of shots in the game’s dying moments and had a couple of them found the net you would not have begrudged Zidane’s troops a more significant margin of victory — not that 5-2 on aggregate isn’t convincing.

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Relentless

Emery will likely pay for this defeat with his job.

On the big stage, away from the cosiness of Ligue 1, PSG’s tactical approach failed to stretch far beyond naming £420million worth of forwards in the starting line-up.

In Thiago Motta, Verratti and Rabiot, PSG had three passers all hesitant to play beyond the ball.

The Parisians were crying out for a dribbler or a sledgehammer to give them variety in the middle of the park.

In a way, Neymar’s absence was Emery’s chance to prove his tactical pedigree and, unlike Zidane, he failed.

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A night to forget

Rewind to the draw and PSG would have been brimming with optimism.

This was a great chance to lay down a marker.

Real Madrid have been under par this season and Zidane has been placed under pressure.

With Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe firing on all cylinders, PSG had the chance to claim a prize scalp, the most notable in European football history.

Ultimately, they were exposed as pretenders, and they only have themselves to blame.


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