The game between Real Madrid and PSG was perhaps the most marketed game since the draw took place. I must say that they even got me speculating about the result, but given Real Madrid’s dramatic fall from grace everything changed. The media started focusing on individual profiles instead of each teams attributes. It all became about “Neymar proving his worth” or “Neymar taking PSG to UCL glory”, something that managed to affect them in the end.
PSG started the game solid and strong, creating chances as they usually do. The atmosphere at the Bernabeu was tense throughout the first half, it looked as if Madrid was set for a nightmare. Neymar dominated the field for the first 45 minutes, cutting through the midfield and playing a part in PSG’s first goal. The game could have gone from bad to worse if Neymar finished a clear chance that left Mbapee in a one on one position against Navas. That poor decision making proved costly, Real Madrid would be awarded a penalty shortly before halftime. Cristiano will end up scoring his 100th penalty goal for the club and setting up a new tone for the second half.
Real Madrid returned to the field more confident and Ronaldo had surely forgotten about his poor form in the first half. PSG however, had a flashback to last season’s game against Barcelona. It was as if they had lost a player and were down by 4 goals, no aggressiveness and Neymar just decided to play by himself. The ultimate sign of weakness in my view came when Emery replaced Cavani. The team disappeared, Neymar was starting to make pointless plays and Mbapee was invisible if he didn’t take the ball and ran with it. Real Madrid only had to bring in Asencio and Lucas Vasquez to finish the game off. Two plays were PSG just stood there and watched as the game looked set to a 2 goal disadvantage in a matter of 10 minutes.
My conclusion to this match up? Regardless of the talent that one player can possess, an inflated price tag doesn’t guarantee you success. I believe that PSG forgot that soccer is a collective sport. One player can’t be more relevant than the institution or team that he represents if that’s the case with PSG they are set for constant failure. I understand money is a crucial part of how the game is played in recent years, but attitudes from players like Neymar can compromise any important project a club might have. If you want a better example just look at how things are developing with Manchester City, solid and practically unbeatable. Who knows? Maybe they reach PSG’s goal without spending as much and with a clear mindset on how things work. However, PSG and Real Madrid have not yet settled who stays on in the tournament. Although I would say Madrid possess enough momentum to advance to the next stage.