At the Parc des Princes,
We criticize quite often like that, so let’s say it when things are successful. By swapping the bibendum down jacket for the fitted coat and the suit, Mauricio Pochettino proved to his detractors that he was still capable of dressing well for major events. And that applies to his PSG. Accustomed to winning in Ligue 1 without ever worrying about the form and even sometimes miraculously (let’s not be afraid of words), Paris knew how to rise to the occasion to gratify the Park with a successful performance. Better still, the Argentinian coach made Carlo Ancelotti pass for a bus driver who was happy to have succeeded in his slot in front of Thibaut Courtois’ cage. Small stats, just like that:
Possession : Paris 58%-42% Real (it was more than 65-35% in the first half)
Shots: 21 for Paris (including 8 executives) against 3 for Real (no framed)
According to the Belgian goalkeeper, it was anything but the evening game plan. “We wanted to play high, but PSG had the ball, they played well. They pressed us very high from the start and we couldn’t find spaces, they cut off the passes. We tried to play the counter-attack, but the ball did not arrive. Benzema thus had to wait more or less half an hour before touching a drinkable ball. When we know its importance within the Madrid attack, inevitably that poses a problem. “Karim had no physical problem, the problem is that he had no ball,” summarized Ancelotti at a press conference.
High pressing and cut passes
Back to PSG. A 4-3-3 of families without surprise and completely consistent with:
- Verratti and Messi as playmakers
- Danilo and Paredes as box bouncers at 4:36 a.m. (special mention for the tenure of the Argentinian, who will have had Casemiro unpinned as planned)
- Nuno Mendes and Hakimi very high on the ground to bring the surplus in offensive position and the recovery of the ball
Overall, everyone – except Messi, who works no matter what – lent himself to the game of high pressing. And of course, that changes everything. Pochettino: “With good pressing, we cut Real Madrid’s playing circuits, we prevented Real Madrid from building. It happened to us against City who forced us to play behind. »
This is perhaps less true in the last half hour, where the changes tended to unbalance to tip the match into anything. But for an hour, PSG effectively occupied all the space with formidable precision and intelligence, with the main effect of pushing Courtois or a central defender to restart either urgently or out of spite. Ancelotti regrets that his players were unable to solve the equation posed by his former team.
“We weren’t aggressive in getting the block up, we missed a lot of passes, that prevented us from getting out of the pressure from PSG. »
More willing players
Pochettino winner of his duel from a distance with his Italian counterpart, that was not a foregone conclusion. But is it relevant to give all the credit to the lemon worshipper? Because if the implementation is essential in a pressing as coordinated as that glimpsed Tuesday at the Park, it was only made possible by the desire of the Parisian players to run a little more than usual. We think of the precious exaggerated pressings of Di Maria that we strangely never see in Ligue 1. Pochettino is not mistaken in applauding his guys: “the players work a lot and deserve to be credited with this performance. And Mauricio deserves, for once, to be left in peace. Even if we know deep down that it won’t last very long.